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Mother God's Love For All People :: And Instagram Babies



I was sitting down between school lessons and sipping my lukewarm coffee and scrolling my IG feed when I spotted a post by a friend. It was a beautiful photograph of her sleeping baby girl. The caption read:

"Sometimes when she's peacefully sleeping, I put my ear close to her tiny face so I can listen to her breathe. In those moments, I can't believe how perfect she is--let alone that she's my bundle of perfection."

I smiled. That's sweet.

I was about to keep scrolling when I suddenly felt the little hair at the back of my neck stand up. Warmth spread over me. I closed my eyes and pictured God doing the exact same thing with us.

All of us.

Not only the Christians or those that do good. No only the successful or righteous.

ALL OF US.

In that tender, quiet moment, God the Father becomes Mother God. Her heart is full of maternal, unconditional love. It no longer matters what we've done or how we have angrily kicked back the love She freely gives. While we sleep, She quietly puts Her ear close to our mouth and listens to us breathe. A silent tear rolls down her cheek. We are Her bundle of perfection.

All of us.

The good and the bad.

The ones who whole-heartedly love Her...

And those who's wounds keep them from feeling and freely returning Her love.

We are our Mother's image.

We are Her bundle of perfection. 


~Gia

NOTE: The photo is of my own sleeping baby (boy) and not taken from my friend's IG account. 

Religion May Have Created Abortion :: And Drywall Primer


Yesterday, I was in our upstairs that’s under construction. I was priming the drywall looking like a real-life sexy stay-at-home-mother/homeschool teacher/professional photographer/artist. My fluffy winter boots were pulled over the pajama bottoms I had slept in—a nerdy fox pattern. I had pulled on a sweatshirt with a Rosie The Riveter look-alike on it, emblazoned with the words: WE CAN DO IT! My hair was a mess. I was sweating. My hands had callouses on the palms (yeah, mock me, yo. I don’t use my hands for manual labor all that much). While the watery primer was spraying off the roller and catching in my eyelashes (free of mascara), I was swearing under my breath at the drywall for soaking it all up like a sponge. But that was the point, right?

Didn’t matter. I was angry.

But I wasn’t really angry at the drywall. Not completely, anyway. I was angry at all the comments I had been reading since the Women’s March. I was angry at the Christians who’s narrow view saw nothing in the march’s beauty but an invisible banner that read: ABORTION. It’s all they wanted to talk about and focus on.

Why do humans find it easy to point their accusatory fingers at what they define as sin without pausing to consider what role they play in its existence? How come they do not speak less about the sin and more about the measure of blame they share in the sin's existence? Why do they fail to consider this all while voting for vile men simply because of the single issue of abortion? How is that sin greater than the sexual sin of assault and abuse? How is that sin greater than hating your fellow man, or cheating on your spouse, or lying?

This does not bring healing.

This does not bring unity.

This certainly does not bring heaven to earth.

It is not kingdom-building.


I mention what it is not because these are the cool phrases tossed about religious circles. They’re pretty and beautiful and catchy and biblical. They’re tools that can be used to manipulate truth. Real truth. The truth that forces you to look at yourself in the mirror.

They’re false phrases at the moment.

It’s easy to fight for a perceived justice for the unborn. It’s valiant, actually. How heroic is it to stand up with the wind in your hair, a sword lifted high, and cry out for the lives of all those who have yet to be born? Protect them! They have a right to live! They are the most precious of creatures! They’re innocent babies, for God’s sake! Yet, it is much harder to sit down and listen and understand how we have victimized the woman who had the abortion. Why did she do it? What was her story? And how did we as a Christian society drive her to that choice? Where did we fail her?

But yet we stand and shout. We point our fingers. We accuse. We never look at ourselves.

It’s much easier to fight for the abstract—for that which does not shine light on the ugliness of our own hearts.

You.

They.

We.


All of us play a part in this sordid tale where we created the “sin” of abortion. Before we can abolish it, we must first recognize our own guilt. Anything other than that is not only shallow hypocrisy, but vain lip service that will end up abolishing nothing.

But as I pour more primer into the paint pan and remind myself not to accidentally step into it (which I forgot), I wonder about when it all happened. When in history were women first placed second in the line of human importance? Has it always been this way, regardless of culture and religion? When it comes to the birth of the American Church, is it simply because the Bible tells us that woman was created second? Do we think that she was made as an after thought because man was lonely? Do we mistakenly use this flawed logic to inadvertently assign her the role of a sexual being, to not only be a helpmeet (goodness, that word lacks so much) but also to bring man pleasure and companionship? Because of this, have we left many women to think that their most treasured value is in her sexuality? Doesn’t our society show her that? Hollywood, media, the fashion magazine, the Playboys and Maxim spreads? The porn industry, the strip clubs, the beauty pageants and music lyrics? Cover up or you will make him lust! Don’t cover up too much or you’re a prude! Don’t lead him on! Don’t be too cold! Don’t be bossy! Don’t be a doormat! Don’t let a man hurt you! Don’t be a victim! But it’s your fault he abused you! You weren’t submissive!

Woman is sex.

Woman is pleasure.

Woman is beautiful.


I had to sit down in the hallway for a moment. I tucked a curl back up into my husband’s ball cap I stole to protect my hair from the paint. My heart was pounding. I didn’t know if it was because it’s kinda hard to paint a ceiling, or because my heart was overwhelmed from the emotions I was feeling.

Earlier in the day, a friend had shared her abortion story with me. It left me raw and sobbing…

I thought of my mother…

I thought of myself and how I felt after my sexual assault…

I thought of all the church meetings where young girls who were “not pure” were asked to stand up in front of hundreds and thousands in a sports arena. People reached out their hands and prayed that God would restore their virginity…

I remembered that no one asked the boys to stand up.

Purity.

Virginity.


That’s what the church cherishes. It’s what they can control.

So when the young girl who grows up in this environment realizes everyone will see her belly swell with a child, they’ll also know she had sex. She isn’t pure anymore. Her value and beauty are gone. She is second hand goods. She is the one who let a boy sample the milk before buying the cow.

How does she tell her religious family? How does she go back to church? How does she go to school where the kids will call her a whore and make jokes behind her back?

So when she finds herself in an abortion clinic, who else took her there?

You.

The church.

Religion.

All of us as a society.


For centuries, Christianity has used shame to control others. Christianity has used shame to control women. Christianity is a big part of why abortion exists. But please note that I am blaming Christianity—religion—NOT Jesus.

So this past weekend, women marched. All over the world, women joined with one another and they believed all kinds of different things. Some were pro-life. Some were pro-choice. Some were Christians, some were atheist. Some were virgins, and some were teen mothers. But they had one thing in common….

They were second.

They were valued by their sex and their purity.

If you are pro-life, if you choose your presidential vote solely on the candidate’s views on abortion, if you cannot speak about abortion without grace and understanding, I ask you to stop speaking, sit down, and consider how your religion has played a part in it’s existence…

With my heart growing calmer, I stood up and blew a long breath of air out of my lungs. My hands were sore. My head was buzzing from the fumes. I had paint on my awesome sweatshirt and muttered at myself for not changing into an old one….

I cleaned up the brushes and dumped out the excess paint…

I poured a tall glass of water and sat down on the couch…

“No one will do that, Gia,” I thought to myself. “It’s too easy to point fingers.”

My two year old ran and jumped on my lap…

And my heart grew even sadder.

“You mad, mommy?” she asked me, putting a chubby little hand on my paint-splattered cheek.

“Yes, baby,” I said with a little smile. “But not at you.”

I nestled my face into her neck that smelled like cereal, and thought, “I hope we can one day pour out grace on those that are hurting, accept them, shelve the shame, and accept and include everyone despite what they’ve done or didn’t do.”

That brings heaven to earth. 

~Gia

Note: I know that the abortion debate is much more complex than what I have said here. And that's the thing, we haven't allowed ourselves to consider how complex it is. We have simply fought and debated and shamed. We owe women more than that, or we do not get to pretend we possess the love of Christ. So please, be quiet and listen to their stories. 

Treasures in The Christmas Carol :: Stave I



In years past, I have read The Christmas Carol aloud to my children. This year, I dug out a copy that was a little newer with crisp pages that were not yellowed and delicate from time. I turned on the fireplace and turned off the lights so we could sit in the warm glow of the Christmas tree lights. Then, I used the flashlight on my phone to begin reading to the children, using the best of my English accents.

Each time we give The Christmas Carol another pass, I find new little treasure of truth and beauty that I hadn’t seen before. Sometimes they are deep, other times they’re just interesting little unknowns that I find I must research in order to fully understand. Today, I present to you two of my treasures from Stave I (Chapter One):

“Foggier yet, and colder. Piercing, searching, biting cold. If the good old St. Dunstan had but nipped the Evil Spirit’s nose with a touch of such weather as that, instead of using his familiar weapons, then indeed he would have roared to lusty purpose.”


So who is St Dunstan?

Saint Dunstan was the most popular saint of the English people. This is an old folk tale about him found in English literature that says:

St. Dunstan, as the story goes,
Once pull’d the devil by the nose
With red-hot tongs, which made him roar,
That he was heard three miles or more.


In another folk story, the devil asks Dunstan to shoe his horse, but instead, Dunstan nails a horseshoe to the devil’s hoof. This causes the devil such pain that Dunstan agrees to remove the horseshoe if the devil promises to never enter a building with a horseshoe hanging over the door.

Later in the scene:

“The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s Ghost; some few were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, is a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door step. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought in interfere, for good, in human matter, and had lost the power forever.” 




I no longer believe in hell as eternal punishment, but what Dickens has described here is a pretty good depiction of what would be perceived as torment (or purgatory). What if, in death, we were able to see all those that were broken-hearted and in desperate need? What if we could see their pain and anguish and know how best to help, but be unable to reach out and take care of them? How would it plague our hearts and burden our souls? How torturous it would be to be forced to watch the suffering of living souls and be unable to do anything about it?

Marley came to visit Scrooge to warn him of the fate that was about to become his own. He showed him his heavy chains that he forged link-by-link and told Scrooge that he had seven years on him—that Scrooge's chains would be even bigger, heavier, than Marley’s.

In these revelations with Marley, hell became the realization that the ghosts had ample opportunity in their lives to love other and be kind and good—spread charity and empathy. Yet, they failed, and therefore would watch the pain unfold before their now open eyes.

That is hell.

Dickens got it right.

So don’t wait. Don’t cast your eyes aside when you see a beggar, a homeless man, a child that’s wayward in behavior and in desperate need of affection. Don’t fail to see the tears behind the young mother’s eyes. Don’t ignore the pain behind the tired man’s eyes who works and works and works but still can’t make enough to provide for his family.

Don’t be Marley and Scrooge. Don't get lost in business and money, in success and pride.

Don’t be the multitude of moaning ghosts in the streets of London--lost in endless time for wasting that which was given them in life. 

Don’t end up realizing what life was supposed to be about before it’s too late.

Love now.
Have empathy now.

Be good now.

For Marley’s sake.

Shake off your heavy chains.


Be free…

And help make others free.

Because Dickens knew something...

He got it right.


DISCLAIMER: I still don't believe in eternal punishment. I've become something of a universalist that believes God will restore ALL things unto Him.
~Gia

Saint Nicholas, A Man Who Loved God and Loved Others


 
There is so much about Saint Nicholas that I would love to share, but it will lead to endless rabbit trails that twist and turn through history. For instance, did you know about the American Saint Nick during World War II?

*sigh* 

*don't do it, Gia!*

*bites lip, rolls eyes...and mumbled, "Fine..."* 

*ahem*

Back to what I was saying:

What I will share with you first was my son’s history lesson today. My children are home schooled, but it’s a public school/charter school that they participate in remotely from home. All the curriculum is what they teach in public school—supposedly. I find this a little hard to believe, because their history lessons are rich with Christian and Muslim history.

Anyway…

Onto Teddy’s lesson today.


Saint Nicholas was born in the third century in Asia Minor to Greek Christian parents. His parents were very wealthy and died when Nicholas was young, leaving their vast wealth to him. However, Nicholas didn’t care about money—but cared more about the people in his village of Myra. He was often grieved by that which was grieving those around him. 

Later in life, Nicholas, who had been raised and educated by his uncle (a bishop) answered the call of Emperor Constantine to attend a The First Council of Nicaea where the men would debate about the Holy Father and his relationship to the Holy Son. It was at this meeting that legend tells us that Saint Nicholas became so enraged with the Egyptian bishop, that he stood, crossed the room calmly, and slapped the man across the face. He was later arrested, stripped of his bishop robes, then (because of an encounter in his prison cell with Jesus and Mother Mary) released and reinstated as a bishop (more on this another time).

Perhaps the song about Santa Claus being able to see us when we are sleeping, comes from the stories of Saint Nicholas having an uncanny way of knowing who in his village were in desperate need. One story is of a man with four daughters. The man was too poor to pay a dowry for his daughters to marry and the eldest one was distraught. Saint Nicholas overheard her grief as she cried in her bedroom and it burdened his heart. Nicholas rushed away from the house, went into his house and collected all the gold coins he could find, stuffed them in a bag, and went back to the man’s home. Since he wanted to give this gold in secret, he swung the bag and tossed it high onto the man’s roof where it landed atop the chimney and fell down inside. Sound familiar?

That night, Saint Nicholas awake from his sleep with fear and worry over the remaining daughters. He had given enough money for the eldest daughter to marry, but certainly the other girls would want to marry too. So he climbed out of bed, gathered more gold coins and tossed a bag upon the man’s roof. He did this the next two nights until all the the daughters had enough money to marry.

The following spring, Saint Nicholas sat quietly and watched the daughters dance with their new husbands at the marriage feast. He was so pleased to see the joy in the girls parents' eyes. They would be okay now, they were taken care of, and no one knew it had been him that delivered the bags of coins.

Today, Saint Nicholas is celebrated all around the world as the secret gift giver and the saint for children. He has his own day dedicated to his memory on December 6th, early in the Advent calendar. People leave carrots at night for his donkey that he travels on as he comes along bearing gifts. They leave out stocking or boots for him to fill with chocolate, oranges, and gold. Children are taught that the gifts are to be shared and not hoarded away for themselves. In turn, they give to those around them as well.

By the sixth century, the story of Saint Nicholas had been heard far and wide and he was officially known as a saint. Emperor Justinian built a church to commemorate him, encouraging citizens to celebrate Saint Nicholas. In the 10th century, an anonymous Greek author wrote, "The West as well as the East acclaims and glorifies him. Wherever there are people, in the country and the town, in the villages, in isles, in the furthest parts of the earth, his name is revered and churches are built in his honor. All Christians, young and old, men and women, boys and girls, reverence the memory and call upon his protection."



During World War II, Santa Claus became a household name. Everyone was desperate for joy, as we are now, and the mysticism and gift giving became popular once again. As bombs fell in Europe, American GIs would dress up like Santa and hand out little toys and candy to the local children who were in desperate need of cheer and hope. Our brave fighting men restored something good in a land that was devastated with loss.

So here we are. We are still a world reeling from war and loss and pain. Is it lying to continue centuries old tradition that stemmed from a good, kind, loving man who tended to his neighbors needs? It is lying to encourage mystery and imagination…?

I have no good answer, but instead will take the lead of WWII service men who became Santa Claus and took a bag of gifts and candy and treats all across Europe. If it was good enough for those brave men, it’s good enough for me and my children.

So, here’s to Santa Claus—jolly ole’ Saint Nick (-holas).

~Gia

I Don't Want Your "Jesus" Anymore :: 'Cause That's Not Him


I am struggling to keep my religion. I have come to a place where I realize that what I have been taught and given as a child is in fact only a religion. It is not Christianity. It is not faith…

And I don’t want it anymore.
I don’t even want to publicly say that I am a Christian. We have become too closely tied to politics, right wing agendas, silly boycotts and drama over cups and “Merry Christmas” and our supposed persecution—as if we could ever possibly understand what being persecuted is. We have made Christianity anti-socialism, anti-liberal, anti-everything that is not white and “good.” We have stripped the bride of her spotless gown and replaced it with an American flag. She is hideous.

I was sitting in my living room the other day. I can’t recall who was sitting in my ugly yellow chair, yet, someone was sitting there and we were speaking of the ridiculousness of gay conversion therapy and how many in Washington want it federally funded. I lost all my chill in that moment. I spat out, “What if it was us? What if it was turned on us and people decided that straight people could and should undergo torturous treatment to make them gay? It is not possible. Nearly everything about the way I am wired and how my hormones interact with my brain and my emotional well being, has made me straight. So, if I came out of this insane process and understood that the only way I would be loved an accepted was to say that it worked—I’m gay now—would I say it worked? Absolutely! And I would continue to live in shame and self-loathing because my loved ones refused to accept me for who and what I am. Who’s fault is it then? Mine? Or there’s?”

I am tired.

I am tired of trying to convince my religious community to STOP! For God’s sake, please stop?! You are destructive. You are stealing joy. You are crushing spirits. You are the reason that many people choose suicide than to walk through your reality.

Stop.

Dear Lord, please stop.

It’s isn’t just American Christianity’s battle with their views of homosexuality. It is more than that. It is their quick ability to see other religious people as the enemy, even going so far as to demonize them. I once had a pastor at a church I served private message me when he learned I intended to teach my homeschooled children about all religions and customs. I wanted them to understand not only their culture, but the way they worshipped so they would not grow up to think them strange or even scary. But this pastor told me I would be inviting darkness into my home—even went so far as to explain that I could have demonic activity in my home and in my children’s personal thoughts. Because why? Well, obviously, Muslims are evil and live under the influence of Satan himself.

Stop.

STOP!

Here’s the thing. I’m done. I quit. I don’t want the fake, pretty things anymore. I want the dirt, and the rough edges. I want the brokenhearted and the homosexuals and the Muslims and the homeless. I want this more than I could ever want a church pew and catchy worship service. I want tears and whispers of “I love you” and “I’m here with you” and “You’re not alone” more than I want claps on beat and hands that are not lifted up before their King that’s “still alive and on His throne.”

I want to be free in Christ. I want to be able to answer “red” when my cousin asks which wine I prefer and not cringe because I just admitted out loud that I drink alcohol. I want to speak what I think and feel and say “piss” is it fits the sentence. I want to tattoo beautiful flowers on my arms because we might one day tarnish God’s beautiful creation with oil and smog and power lines. I want to cry when I see refugees homeless and covered in ash, not be told that they’re potential terrorists that will kill my children in their beds. I want to sit with the woman who aborted her baby for reasons that are personal and all her own, rather than stand on the side of the road with tape over my mouth and signs of condemnation that save NO lives.

And for goodness sakes, this might be the most hard one to admit aloud:

I want to one day pick up my bible and not view it’s words with disgust anymore.

Yes, you read that right.

And it wasn’t what God intended. THIS IS NOT WHAT HE INTENDED…

But it’s what this world and her lovers made His beauty…

Twisted. Empty. Hollow. And a lie.

So, I reject this American religion that ties with politics, money and power.

I quit.

And I will raise my children to reform it, make it new, make it shine and beat with His pulse.

Because I’m still with Jesus…

And Jesus is missing from American churches.

Last week, I posted something similar and a lone man whom I love and respect took it very personally. This is not about you. It is not about them. It is about us. We are all guilty. And we must ALL be the change if we want to make our Father proud.

It is time to grow up. 

~Gia

I Will Not Unite For Their Sakes


If you’ve known be for a while or even been following me for a short time, I am sure you’ve gathered that I was not a Trump supporter and spoke out against his rhetoric with passion. I got deleted from friends that were only internet neighbors, and friends that I’ve had since I was a child. That was still worth it to me. I mean, it wasn’t that I was intentionally trying to be divisive or hurt the feelings of others, but speaking up for humanity and minorities absolutely felt like the right thing to do.

And then Tuesday happened.

Wednesday, I woke up and cried. I have voted for candidates that hadn’t won before. No big deal. I was one of those evangelicals that honestly believed the hype that Obama was the anti-Christ (Lord, forgive me!!), but I still didn’t cry when Obama won (and now I desperately wish I could go back and vote for him both times!). But Wednesday, I cried. I worried about minorities. I worried about refugees. I worried about the normalization of sexual assault. I worried about the Paris agreement and our climate…

Then I saw my feed littered with Christian friends and church leaders praising the Lord and thanking the Church for doing the right thing by voting for Donald Trump. I got so angry that my knees trembled and vomit truly rose up in my throat. I felt lost and abandoned. I felt so lonely. How could they do this to me? I’ve grown up in the Church. I did what I was supposed to. But at no point, not even a little, did Donald Trump seem or act like a biblical choice for anything that had to do with being president of the United States. I wanted to scream and shout at these people that they had chosen wickedness. They had chosen hate. They had chosen what is divisive, and yet they were telling me that I was divisive. Not only that, but the were stealing the image of my good, good God…and tying His name much too close to a man like Donald Trump (note that I am speaking specifically to church leaders and pastors at the moment).

I cried.

I cried so much.

I have many people in my family that voted for Trump. I love these people dearly. I do not doubt they love God with all their heart. However, I cannot follow them or unite with them under this leadership. I will not. While Trump is in office, I will pray for him. I will ask God to truly soften his heart to the people, especially minorities and the disenfranchised. I will ask God to help him begin to see all of humanity as his brothers and sisters. I will pray for him. I will hope for the best. I will ask God to help Donald Trump surprise me. But I will not unite. I will be a rebel. I will work and toil to take care of those that have been deeply harmed by the wicked rhetoric Donald Trump has spread while running his campaign. I will shut down the bigotry and white supremacy that has grown under his guidance and influence. I will keep busy and volunteer and share as much love and kindness as I can…

But I will not unite.

I will not unite until all people, despite race or religion or sexuality are not afraid. I will not unite until all are included at the table. And I will not unite is a wall begins to be erected.

So be prepared, my friends. Because the Gia before the election is a shadow of the Gia—the lion—that I will become now.

It’s day three of Trump’s America rising up. One day three, violence has surged on both sides. On day three, children are coming home in tears having been called niggers and faggots, hispanic children told they were being kicked out now. On day three, Donald Trump has already taken away signs of his pro-life considerations and decided not to repeal Obamacare. On day three, people are divided…

And the man that fostered that division has been elected the next president of our country.

And so I get to work until everyone is considered.

~Gia

My love of Coffee Is Unconditional...Like Jesus

There is a popular, fringe clothing maker that I love: Wicked Clothes. They have this shirt that I used to want with a skeleton sitting in a coffee cup that read: Death Before Decaf...


Turns out, that's a possibility for folks like me.

Turns out, I don't much care to be a skeleton in a coffee cup.

As I sat in my doctor's office, he told me that Starbucks made a decaf that was actually very good. "You won't know the difference," he assured me.

Lucky for me, Roger has a second job at Starbucks. That night, he brought me home a pound of Pike's Peak Decaf and a pour over ceramic. And friends, it was heaven. I tasted like coffee. It tasted like Jesus made it for me with His own two hands. It was hot, welcoming, and jitter free.

I am now willing to wager that my decaf coffee is better than the coffee I had before that often left me so jittery that my hands refused to do a thing for me.

So, to all you caffeinated coffee snobs, I am telling you right now, you're pretending. Your love for coffee is fake. You only THINK you love coffee. Because when you can find it within your loving, open heart to embrace the disfranchised, the coffee that suffers so much harsh criticism and judgement, then you are true lover of coffee.

Yeah, that's right.

I said it.

My love for coffee is pure and true.

Coffee and I have faced our struggle and won the battle. We are still one, coffee and I. Forever and always.

~Gia