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After starting this journey w/ our God in 1986, He continues to teach me and show me more and more of Himself. He often uses other people to do that....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Where to Start?

I'm not sure where to start, but I know there's a lot in me to write, so here we go.

God is teaching me to be present in the "sacred now". I have spent so much time worrying about the future and losing sleep about money and other problems that I have missed too much of the "now".

My mom was here from Florida for the past week and I made an effort to just sit with her as much as I could. I barely looked at the computer. I only worked one day while she was here. I'm glad we had the time together without too many distractions.

Josh and I have really been enjoying some reading together lately. He had to read "My Side of the Mountain" for school. He wasn't too excited about it at first, but as we started reading it out loud together, we started looking forward to our nightly tucking into the corner of the couch in front of the fire and seeing what happens to Sam Gribley next. We finished it last night and he now wants to read the rest of the series of three books. I look forward to doing that with him.

I am now sitting in a coffee shop on our first real snowy day of the winter. Have I told you about my coffee shop dream? I can't seem to shake it, so I've been asking God what He wants me to do about it. I want to open my own coffee shop. I have a vision for the atmosphere I'd want to create....so how about I share it with you here? I want to decorate it with antique, vintage coffee/tea type items. I've had my eye on some old coffee grinders in a local antique store. I want creaky hardwood floors and a two-sided fireplace with big warm rugs near it. I want to make lattes and laugh and talk and pray with people all day. I've considered hanging out my own little counseling/spiritual direction shingle with an office connected to the cafe somehow. It would have a separate entrance and I'd be available for maybe 10 hours a week of counseling. The whole enterprise would be called "Life Grounds Cafe". There would be books available for purchase and/or check-out. Of course, it would be stocked with all of my favorites and more. We would shut down on Sundays and make the space available to church planters who are just getting started and need a place to meet. I would love to also make some office space available for new church planters as they're getting started. We'd have a meeting room available for support groups/group therapy, etc...). I've been researching start-up coffee shops and estimate I'd need about $150,000 to get it started. I know that sounds huge, but nothing is too big for God. So, I just keep talking to/with Him about it and I remain open to His leading, direction and provision.

SO, I'd love to hear your thoughts...I know when I do open this amazing coffee shop one day, it will be a reflection of the journey He has had me on and will reflect something of the friends He has blessed me with along the way. There will be pictures....lots of pictures.

Bye for now....gonna go enjoy some more "sacred now". Nice sharing a few minutes of it with you....

Sunday, July 4, 2010

submission, or the "s" word....

okay, so i've never been much into submission. i really do like to do things my own way. i know somewhere along the way, growing up, i heard things like, "don't ever trust a man to take care of you. they're all pigs. make sure you can take care of yourself." i'm sure this had an impact on how i took in the whole "wives are to submit to their husbands" part of the Bible. i truly have bristled against this teaching, writing it off as a cultural thing of the times it was written in that doesn't really fit today. sigh....

i started reading "the excellent wife" as part of a mentoring course i'm taking through settingcaptivesfree.com i'm not so sure i could recommend it to others since i haven't finished it yet. at first glance, it seems really legalistic with no real infusion of grace. BUT, the first two chapters are behind me and i can report that i am being challenged in my thinking and in the condition of my heart towards my husband. it doesn't feel like mis-placed guilt or pressure to please someone else. it feels like God Himself is asking me to look at an area of my life that not only displeases Him, but has been a stumbling block for me, for Mark and for our marriage.

as i took in the truth that God wants me to submit to my husband and be busy at home and look for ways that i can serve and support him, i had some good tears. one, because it's hard to look at my pride and the condition of my heart. and two, because i have to change. a lot.

so, i asked God to do the work in my heart needed to walk as He wants me to walk in this area. and i've just started changing the way i am with mark....listening to him more than talking, pouring him a glass of cold iced tea when he walks in the door, asking what he thinks about something before i jump ahead and do it, complimenting him ans showing him respect whenever i can. and doing these things is causing my heart to shift towards him. and it also is causing mark to look at me like, "who are you and what have you done with my wife?"

God has given me a good man. not perfect, but definitely good. making a conscious decision to place myself under his God-given authority actually feels like a safe place to be. it feels like i can rest in that place. weird, huh?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


i just thought i'd let you all know i woke up feeling hopeful today. i haven't felt that in awhile and i just wanted to recognize it and allow myself to enjoy it:) sometimes i hesitate to say where i'm really at when i read what you are going through, ginger. nothing going on in my life even compares to the loss you are experiencing. i want you to know that i'm grateful for the way you've shared your grief with all of us through your blog. God has allowed me to feel a portion of your grief as i've thought about you and prayed for you lately. i am thankful He has allowed that.

off i go to walk and take in the beautiful day today is. and soak in the Hope only He can offer.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


i've felt edgy lately. i can't seem to relax. or feel settled. i had the whole day off yesterday and i think my brain just needed space to breathe, but i felt this pressure to use the time productively. but i didn't. i couldn't even figure out where to start. my mind couldn't think clearly enough to fold a towel. so i watched a movie. and fed the cat (she was grateful). and talked to God throughout the day....nothing too coherent. i did manage to clean our desk at home off. nice to look at that at the end of the day as something completed. josh had a make-up game. i sat and watched and asked God to just help me focus on the game. to be all there for it. He granted my request.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Last night, I completed my first group therapy experience (that I was leading). What a ride it was. It was a sexual abuse recovery group and we used Dan Allender's "Wounded Heart" and the Bible as our guide. We started with four women. One dropped out 3 weeks into it...too overwhelmed.

The three women who were left were really there for each other. It seemed like God hand-picked them to be together for this season of healing. And Satan really hated it. I know it was a spiritual battle for each of them as they shared stories of how hard it was to get to group meetings and the things they struggled with throughout the 12 weeks. It was an intense spiritual battle for me and I'm sort of hoping for some relief now that it's over. My skin thing really flared up again (hence, the allergy testing), you already know about the relational struggle I dealt with, our finances took a serious turn for the worse, and for the first time in two years, depression seemed to take over.

In response to the attack (which I recognized about half way through the 12 weeks), I joined a local bible study (Bible Study Fellowship) and signed up for the online bible study I told you about, memorized scripture, started writing here again, and talked with God A LOT. God was faithful to see me through it in one piece, and I am grateful for that.

During the last 30 minutes of our meeting, we did a "Words of Life" exercise where we took turns sharing thoughts with each other about the part each of us played in each others' healing. I intended for all of us (2 leaders included) to do the affirming for the three participants. When we finished with the three, one asked if they could include Marcia and I in the exercise. What a gift. The words they had for each of us were so life-giving.

Knowing the impact that was made somehow makes it worth the blood, sweat, and tears. I wanted to do it just to be faithful. I knew God was asking me to offer the group. But what a bonus to actually see lives transformed. Each woman LOOKED different last night than they did on the first night. More open. More feminine. More hopeful. Alive.

Thank you, Jesus.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


i am amazed at His patience with me. and the way He keeps pouring into me....into my endless emptiness. and somehow He fills me up. and as I watch Him move and work in the people around me, like an eternal, stealth, soft whisper, i just get caught up in the holiness of it all. the mystery. i prayed with people today. i do that on most days, but today it felt especially like we were on Holy ground. He seems more present and flows through me more freely when my heart is soft and broken. i wish i could be sure i'll never have to re-learn this. i wish i could stay in this place and watch the mystery unfold around me from now until eternity. maybe i can.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


at about 3:42 this afternoon, i was desperate for a cup of coffee at work. i am trying to replace coffee with green tea, because i know green tea is better for me, but i only made it until 3:42. trouble is, pay day is 3 days away and we are literally flat broke. i had to scrape together $1.68 from several different places (my desk drawer, the bottom of my purse, the car door....) to pay McDonald's to ease my headache with some hot java. i was once again faced with how on our last dime we are AGAIN, even with all the hours we work between the two of us. the pressure to keep the bills paid and keep our heads above water nearly consumes me sometimes. i prayed on my walk back from McDonald's, "Lord, i don't know what it really is like to live in poverty, because i have a job and a roof over my head, but i trust You to provide everything we need. You always have."

lately, i find myself poverty-stricken before God. it is finally sinking in for me that i really have nothing to offer Him. on my own, i'll choose the selfish thing and do what makes me feel good. when i pray to Him these days, it seems like all i can say to Him is things like, "i need You. please protect me from the enemy. keep me safe. i am nothing without You. in my poverty, You make me rich. where i am weak, You make me strong."

sometimes it feels like i'm scraping the bottom of my purse to find what i need to walk in holiness and keep my head above water. and He reminds me that it isn't there. He freely gives me what i need for life and Godliness. the pressure is off. i don't have to fight alone. i can rest in His finished work on the cross for me. i am an heiress of the King.

as i get ready to rest my head on the pillow tonight, i rest in the knowledge that He is all i need. Selah...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ode to Phillip Hillery

I've had these words formulating in my mind for weeks since Philip's day of going home to Jesus, so I think I'll write them here.

Because of God's grace, we had the privilege of living in Madison, New Jersey for several years and attend church with Phillip and his beautiful family. It was a season of pain and joy and perseverance for Phillip. As an onlooker, I watched him struggle with who he was and how to live that out in a way that honored God. He was a gifted writer, a seminary graduate, a Christian whose waters ran deep....he had so much to offer. During that season, God chose to allow him lots of time to be at home with his family and to serve in his church.

He came to NJ to be with his dying father, moving his wife and five children from Texas. I always admired this selfless act of love and was inspired as I watched him and Ginger walk through the emotions of both of his parents dying within 2 weeks of each other. Every time I stopped by their home, Phillip was either landscaping the yard or remodeling part of the old home he inherited from his father. I wonder how much God was rearranging inside of Phillip as he worked tirelessly to improve his physical surroundings.

Our time in NJ was also a season of pain and joy and perseverance. In our five years there, our church experienced much spiritual turmoil. We had two pastors who quit under stressful circumstances, one whose wife died during his interim service to us, and as we were leaving, a new pastor was just beginning. Meanwhile, Mark (my husband) was on staff and doing all he could to manage all the transition and pain and chaos. He found himself struggling with who he was and what his calling was. Phillip proved to be a faithful friend to Mark. I know that Phillip's voice of courage drew Mark closer to Jesus. He also provided a few good belly laughs along the way. God sure did gift that man with a unique way of lifting others' spirits around him.

Not long after we moved to Wisconsin from NJ, God moved the Hillery's to VA to purchase and operate their own farm. I regret that I never got to see Phillip in this setting, but I imagine he was in his element. His home-going is bittersweet. It is painful for me to think of Ginger and Thomas and Patrick and Maggie and Rose and Nora on the farm without him, but I know God is surrounding them with people who love them and providing everything they need. I rejoice that our good friend, Phillip, is no longer in pain and is worshipping Jesus day and night, as we all long to one day do. I am grateful for the time on this earth that He allowed our paths to cross.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Surviving vs. Thriving

For eight years I have lived daily with a skin condition for which no medical professional seemed to be able to find a cause or a cure for. It affected everything, from what I wore to my sex life to how I felt about myself. After thousands of dollars in doctor bills and untold number of ointments, creams, oral medications, natural remedies, diet modifications, light therapy… I gave up. I told myself, “You can’t afford to keep spending time and money on something that just will not go away, so just learn to live with it.” So, I did. I went through life in constant pain, just learning to accept it as a part of who I was.
Somehow, throughout this time, I managed to do a fairly good job at raising two boys, working on my marriage, growing in my walk with God, going through a couple rounds of intense personal counseling, purchasing our first home, earning a second master’s degree, moving my family from New Jersey to Wisconsin, growing closer to some pretty amazing friends, teaching students with learning disabilities, starting my own growing private practice, and completing the required 3,000 counseling hours towards my professional counseling license. WOW. How did I do all that? I have no idea. I just know I did it all while living in constant pain.
Recently, the skin condition took a turn for the worse and turned into a bacterial infection. I had no choice but to subject myself to the medical professionals AGAIN. The first available appointment was with a doctor I had not seen before at our clinic. She hurried into the room on a typically busy morning at the clinic. I assumed we’d have a brief conversation, she’d write a prescription to clear up the infection, and I would have a couple days of relief before all was back to normal with a new flare up. When I casually told her I’d been dealing with this problem for EIGHT years, she looked dumbfounded. I could sense her blocking out everything else going on outside the doors of our little exam room and zeroing in on me. She looked concerned. She asked a lot of questions. I tearfully told her the whole story. She very sensitively examined every affected area of my body. And out of nowhere came an idea of where she thought this might be coming from that immediately made sense to me. It looked to her like my skin was having an allergic reaction to certain types of elastic in my clothing. In eight years, not one medical professional actually took the time to help me figure out the cause. All I heard were lectures on caring for sensitive skin, not scratching or touching when irritated, and not to use certain medications for too long as they could be hazardous to my health. She gave me doctor’s orders to go braless for awhile, and avoid wearing anything that would require elastic or rubber of any kind to touch my skin. That took some doing, but I gladly obeyed. She did write a prescription to help clear up the infection, and within 24 hours, it was gone.
Over the next several days, I thoroughly enjoyed my braless state and wearing bulky sweaters and sweatshirts in the middle of the Wisconsin winter. And less than 48 hours later, I woke up feeling….normal? “Is this what normal feels like?” I forgot what it felt like to not be itching or in pain ANYWHERE. For the first time in eight years, I felt good.
I went to work and found I had a much larger percentage of my heart, mind and body engaged in what I was doing. I had so much more energy to put into the things before me. At home, I was less irritable with my kids. I was into my husband And I started tacking long overdue projects around the house.
My only frustration was this: why didn’t I think of that? Why hadn’t it occurred to me that what I was wearing was causing the problem ? I had to rest with this thought: Sometimes when you’re in the muck of a mess, it’s hard to see clearly. You go into survival mode, and survive I did! What seemed like common sense was so far away from me, because I was so focused on surviving that it never occurred to me that thriving was a very real possibility. Sometimes it takes an objective pair of eyes (and a professional who is dialed in and cares) to see clearly.
I feel like I have my life back….like the possibilities are endless. When I think of what I accomplished in 8 years while operating at less than 60% capacity, I am excited to see what will unfold in the months and years ahead as I get used to the idea of operating at 100% capacity. Watch out, world! Here I come!