An American Hero To Dance For



I grew up watching old movies. No matter where I am or what is going on in my life, an old movie can bring me a sense of peace. I suppose it brings me back to careless childhood days--when you don't have to worry, because someone will always take care of you. Perhaps the nostalgia of old movies (and the places and decades that Carey Grant and Kathryn Hepburn can take me) is why I love to write historical fiction. Whatever the case, I'm glad that my parents gave this gift to me. I can only hope that my children grow up knowing what it feels like to try hard no to cry during Shenandoah, laugh their way through Philadelphia Story, and scream out loud when the scary old woman appears in Vincent Price's House On Haunted Hill. I hope Lucy falls in love with Clark Gable and Carey Grant. It would only be fitting that Teddy admires The Duke and, at least for a while, considers him the epitome of a hero. All little boys should know that a white cowboy hat is for the good guys and the black cowboy hats are for the bad guys. ;)

There's one movie I know I will have them watch when they are old enough to appreciate it, and that's The Glenn Miller Story with Jimmy Stewart. It was released in 1954, ten years after the famed orchestrator died, and holds a special place in my heart. Of course, before my children can watch the movie, they will have to listen to all of their daddy's Glenn Miller records on the high-fi and learn to dance to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. I can hardly wait to see that!

Alton Glenn Miller had an impossible dream. Lost in a time of Gene Krupa and big shots like Louis Armstrong, he loved the sound of good jazz and blues. Yet, he felt compelled to discover a new sound. What a feat! Can you imagine fighting the feeling of mediocrity when you want to climb to the top with Ben Pollack and Arvey Shaw--having no means or money to achieve that dream? But Helen (his wife) never let him give up on himself. She pushed him and reminded him that he was fully capable, more than talented, and too wonderful a musician not to try.

Miller achieved the unique sound he dreamed of. In return, he soon had a gold record, radio broadcasts, movie deals, and sky-rocketing sales of his records. But as his fame soared, so did the rising conflict in Europe and Pacific.

World War II was unfurling across the nation. Too old to enlist, Miller found a way to serve his country. After many letters and transfers, he finally made it into the Army Air Force. Once there, Miller was put in charge of the military marching band where he skillfully blended jazz and the blues with traditional military marching tunes. He believed that this was a way he could bring a "little bit of home" to the fighting men over seas. And he did just that. From 1942-1944, Miller traveled all over Europe performing for troops, broadcasting over the radio, and even cutting records.

I'm going to pause here, because I want you to watch a 4 minute scene from The Glenn Miller Story with Jimmy Stewart. This was my favorite scene that shows just what an impact Miller made during his time in the service. It brought me to tears...



Of Major Alton Glenn Miller and his band, General Jimmy Doolittle said, "Next to a letter from home, that organization was the greatest morale builder in the European Theater of Operations."

And that is why I want my children to see this movie. Not only that, but I want them to know about Glenn Miller's life, hear his records, know the true story behind the movie. I want them to dream impossible things...to look for a spouse that will believe in them and encourage them the way Helen did Glenn...and learn to love to serve and lift up others in their most trying of times. I want them to be willing to sacrifice riches and safety, health and comfort, to do what they believe is right...

On December 15, 1944, Glenn Miller boarded a plane to fly from England to France to play for the soldiers there. His plane never arrived. All evidence of the plane and the crew were never found. Today, Glenn Miller's status remains as missing in action. He was forty years old.

I believe that he is one of America's Hero's. For more than one reason. :)



"Major Miller, through excellent judgment and professional skill, conspicuously blended the abilities of the outstanding musicians, comprising the group, into a harmonious orchestra whose noteworthy contribution to the morale of the armed forces has been little less than sensational." ...from Miller's Bronze Star Medal citation

" He had a good sense of humor, he was a very fine musician, he was a good businessman . . . he was athletically oriented, and he was a super patriot." ...Paul Tanner, a trombonist in Miller's orchestra



~Gia
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There's No Turkeys Here


Yesterday, Lucy and Grandma were having a discussion as they cut place setting tags for Thanksgiving dinner. Lucy likes to be fancy--Grandma indulges her. As they are cutting out little turkeys, Lucy suddenly is very bothered. "I just don't understand this," she said. "I don't understand how we are going to get a turkey. We don't have turkeys in this town!"

Grandma assures her. "You don't have to worry about that. I bought one at the grocery store. It's in the refrigerator."

Lucy is momentarily relieved, but then, she's once again thoughtful. "Oh," she finally says. "Well, then...I hope the grocery men have lots of guns."




************



The mental picture in my head is phenomenal! I cannot imagine what the picture looked like in Lucy's mind! Oh, the bloodbath in Kroger's isles!" :)

Don't have your turkey yet? Heading to the grocery? Better take a flak jacket with you.

~Gia
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God Laughed At Me

Two blog posts in one day? Yeah. I guess I just have a lot to write about all of a sudden. I think it is the last blog post that has my heart and mind battling for attention. :)

I don't know why, but I believe that most people have this stigma attached to them where they cannot understand why another person would love them. Is that why we get pets? Because dogs don't know that we're slobs. After all, they lick their own---well, you know. Our cats don't care if we buy them an ugly sweater for Christmas. Heck, they prefer it that way. Why bother covering up that sexy body with a sweater? Because cats are so self-centered. Even the twenty-five pound Garfield-sized cat isn't aware that he, or she, isn't drop dead gorgeous.

Here's my daily battle with my ability to accept love:

I'm not the best mom. In fact, there are days when I would be ashamed if people could peek in on me at noon and witness the kids and I still in our pajamas. There I would be trying to catch up on work, feeling guilty that Elmo is temporarily babysitting, and that I've been asked half a dozen times for some juice….

See. Even writing that paragraph, I shudder. Seriously, Andrea? You want to put that up on the blog for everyone to read?

Sure. Because you know what, (I say this to the evil-liar-voice somewhere in the back of my mind), I'm equally a pretty darn great mom!

Sometimes, it seems like our faults out number our goodness. That's just because the faults fill us with shame…and the shame is heavy and blinding. You have to refuse not to look at the shame in order to see the goodness towering just beyond. The same goes with God. You have to look through all the bad things going on in our lives, all the anguish and pain, all the disappointments and failures, and see that God is standing--towering over it---just beyond.

But then I think...

Wasn't I the same woman who walked through the produce department of the grocery store with her nose buried in her list and conked her head on the metal scale? Didn't everyone turn to stare at me--one teenage girl laughing out loud before covering her mouth? Yeah. Yeah, that was me. I should have been embarrassed. I was. A little.

And weren't you the woman who then knocked over the carefully and artistically arranged display of hot chocolate?

Yeah. That part makes me giggle, actually. Even I was starting to wonder who I was and what was going on inside of my brain! :)

Aren't you the woman who keeps every part of her house as clean as possible unless there is some form of door to shield the mess from visitors eyes? I'm a closet hoarder. Literally. But in now way in need of television to help me with this problem. So don't call!!!

And I'm the woman who mispronounces my words over and over again. It's genetics. My grandma does the same thing.

And I'm the one who will walk into a screen door or get stuck in a rotating door. I shut my legs in car doors (I just shouldn't be allowed near doors). I talk to myself when I dry my hair. I put things in the freezer that I meant to put in the bathroom closet. I refuse to ball socks and fold underwear. I do not pre-rinse dishes or check them when I put them away. I forget to have my kids brush their teeth TWICE a day. There are times when I suddenly blink and wonder just where in the world I am. I fear the day when I will blink and forget WHO I AM! :)

I don't always get to read my bible every day. Sometimes I can't figure out where I put it. Other days I just hurt so much that I don't want to talk to God, though I end up doing so…because I tell Him that I don't want to talk to Him. That counts.

But He loves me. He really does. I have no idea why. Sometimes I am certain that He messed something up along the way. This isn't how He wanted me to turn out. Surely I failed Him in some way. Because….He just couldn't love me. There's no way.

Thank God, that even right now, even in these dark and scary moments, something, someone, reminds me that He does in fact love me. Because this world is trying hard to convince me otherwise. You wanna know who that person was today?

Myself.

About the moment that I knocked the stack of hot chocolate over…I heard God laugh out loud. That's when I knew His eyes were on me, that I was perfect--fearfully made and wonderful in His sight---and that He looked upon me with nothing but pure love shining in His eyes.

Thank you, Father, for loving me. I'm okay with you laughing at me. I promise. ;) But I still think you put the scale and hot chocolate display there on purpose!


~Gia

PS: And because I can...I'm adding one last video of "How He Loves"...just the entire song, this time. I've heard it a zillion times, but today, it just seems to be my theme song.

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How He Loves


One song sticks with me through all the crummy ups and downs of life. A writer friend had Kim Walker's version on her facebook page and it reminded me of the video John Mark McMillan made explaining why he wrote the song How He Loves<--Click below to watch the story behind the lyrics. You will not regret it. :)

And I think that's all I have to write about today. Being reminded that God is with me in the slums...is more than enough. That alone, leaves me speechless. Or, in my case, wordless. :)

If you take the time to read this and watch the video, leave a message and comment on a time in your life when lyrics like these would have impacted your life. And pass it on, would ya? You never know who might need it today.


~Gia
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A Portrait of Marriage via Little Women


Marriage is not easy. There are days that I wake up and I wonder just what I must have been thinking: Who is this man and what is he doing in my bed? Other days I marvel over the idea that he actually fell in love with me: Yhy not the other girl/the prettier girl? It takes a lot of patience, understanding, love, and sometimes years to "understand" each other...

A few years ago I read one of my favorite books to Lucy--Little Women. It is such a wonderful book—so true and honest. There are so many good messages in this book written so long ago, yet, the messages still make perfect sense in today’s world. A favorite chapter was titled Domestic Experiences. In this chapter, Meg and her new husband, John Brooke, have their first little spat. You see, Meg is a new bride and wants to impress her husband so that he believes he has the best wife in the world. How many of us were like that when we were newly married? So Meg works herself ragged keeping house, mending clothes, and, in her words, “make his home a paradise”.


Meanwhile, in an attempt to be the ultimate wife, Meg declares that if John should ever desire, he has her permission to bring guests home with him for dinner without any warning whatsoever. After all, she is a good wife. She’s ready for anything. She will greet her husband at the door with a smile, looking charming of course, and have a wonderful meal prepared. John never thought anything of it…and for a long time, he forgot about her declaration.


One day, Meg tries her hand at making jellies for her husband. She knows that he favors them and is desperate to please. It doesn’t matter to her that she knows nothing about making jelly. It seems simple enough…


Of all days, John chooses this one to bring a friend home for dinner. You can imagine his surprise when he proudly walks up the sidewalk to find that his beautiful wife is not standing at the door with a smile on her face. Instead, the smell of something burning greets him. He excuses himself and runs to the back of the house, afraid that his wife is injured. But John only finds Meg in the floor weeping—pot after pot boiling over with a sticky mess all over the floor. When she sees him, she throws herself in his arms declaring that if he doesn’t help her she will surely die!


John finds the entire scene amusing. He sees her as a beautiful woman that loves him so much that she is desperately trying to make him something that she knows he loves. What more could a man want? Even though her attempt has failed miserably, he loves her even the more for her effort.


When Meg realizes that there is company, she is furious at her husband and tells him to take the man away! The house is a mess! There is no food! And she is in a wretched state of mind! John is confused. What happened to her declaration? What happened to the freedom she gave him? But not only that, Meg accuses him of thoughtlessness!


In the end, both parties are furious with the other. There were some things that they both did wrong. You have to read the book. But the part that struck me was the forgiving part. At first, pride kept them both angry. They sat in awkward silence for a long time—both waiting for the other to be the first to apologize. But it was the words of Meg’s mother that brought the young bride before her husband with forgiveness readily on her lips.


“Watch yourself, be the first to beg pardon if you both err, and guard against the little piques, misunderstanding, and hasty words that often pave the way for bitter sorrow and regret.”


How true those words are….


I believe that a small part of the reason people shy away from marriage is because marriage is hard work. You have to be willing to sacrifice pride once in a while. You have to be willing to accept the weaknesses in your spouse and believe that, perhaps, even you have weaknesses. In marriage, you have to be willing to work, to fight, to mend bridges, to shake hands and call it good, to surrender, laugh, cry, accept your wrongs, support and defend, and most of all…never, ever, give up.


The most sacred and precious things in our lives are the things that are the hardest to keep together if we aren’t willing to fight for it. Marriage means fighting to keep things together when the rough winds of life’s storms pick. And they will. They always do. And if you solemnly promise to hold onto each other when the storm clouds gather…you will find yourselves still standing strong when the clouds roll away.


I standing in the former right now. I'm desperately clinging to my husband's hand, facing the storm dead on, and trying hard not to tremble. But the strength of my beloved stands beside me. I know he is trying just as hard not to be afraid, to keep a steady chin, and to shield me from as much pain as possible as he takes the brunt of it. I'm sold. I will never give up on him because of that. And I marvel again...why me?


Lord, for him, for the man you created only for me, I am thankful. He may still drive me nuts and make me angrier than anyone else in the entire world can, but he's mine, I'm his, and we're not going anywhere.


Thanks, Meg and John, for the reminder. ;)


~Gia

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Delete or Not to Delete


I was not a little girl when I decided that I wanted to be a writer. However, I was a little girl when I discovered just what a writer could do to people. I have always read. At a young age, I simply loved the art in books. Later, I was captivated by the American Girl books and devoured each one I could get my hands on. After that, I took a Que from my aunt (ten years my senior) and read every one of the Sweet Valley High books. But after that, I was at a loss. That's when my mom shared with me the beauty of Christian Fiction--historic, being her favorite. I was sold. Those books took me to places I could never go. There were even times when a character's heart break or heart mend caused me to come to tears right along side them.

Today, there are endless possibilities of where I can go and what I can do. Of course, all of this is in the privacy of my own home, but that doesn't stop the adventure. I love to plan out future books, begin reading up on the subject--dive in head first into research that sweeps over me and nearly swallows me whole. And then, when it is time to finally begin writing...I freeze up.

What is so hard about writing those first few chapters? Why do I constantly find myself at odds with no one but myself, worrying over every mundane detail of my characters and their lives? Because this matters so very much. I don't want to mess it up. I don't want to sell my characters and this setting short? So, often times, it takes me forever to get those first few pages down in such a fashion that I can hand them off to someone else with a smile on my face.

That's where I am right now. I'm in the middle of chapter three...with my index finger hanging over the 'delete' button. Is this the right way that you want it to go, God? Are these people going to reach out an minister to a reader's heart? Or are they too messed up? Are they in the wrong places? Are they doing the wrong things?

And that's when I realize, sometimes, God speaks to me through critique partners. :) God bless 'em.

~Gia
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Shooting Boogers In My Eye


Written in 2006...


I love all the new experiences of motherhood...even the ones that leave you with a bit of vomit in the back of your throat and hands covered in bright yellow poop. Every bit of it--every stinkin' bit of it--is an adventure that I could never do without. It is a greater adventure than rock climbing, greater than biking over rough terrain, and far greater than traveling the world twice over (I've only actually done one of those things, so don't take my word for it). With every explosive diaper and eruption of "Volcano Lucy", I feel that I am becoming a very beautiful and wonderful woman.

When I first brought Lucy home, I did not understand that it was tragically important to get a fresh diaper on a bare bottom as quickly as humanly possible. The end result: a mommy shaped silhouette on the wall where my darling baby commenced to paint with the artistic abilities of her bowels. She covered everything! It could have been funny at the time, if I wasn't standing there stunned with yellow poop dripping off my chin...

Then came the booger sucker. You know what I'm talking about. The first time I used that blue monstrosity marked another milestone in learning the ways of mommy-hood. Lucy looked at me with those innocent and oh-so-trusting eyes when I came at her with the booger plunger. It is a wonder she still loves me as I held her head, pushed the end ever-so-slightly up her nose and sucked away. I was trying to work as quickly as possible before people walking outside the house heard the heartbreaking screams of my newborn. Then...the sucker got clogged up. I pulled it out, looked down the barrel and saw the biggest green booger imaginable. How in the world was she even able to breath?! And how in the world was I to get the booger out??

Without even thinking, I squeezed the sucker. Now, my friends, this is a moment when my Father in Heaven looked down upon me and shook his head with disbelief. He surely shouted from the heavens, "Don't do it, Andrea! Don't...do....it!!!"

But I didn't hear Him.

Out shot the green booger--hitting me straight in the eye. I dropped the sucker and looked down at my baby girl...somewhat embarrassed of my own stupidity and wondering if she knew just how silly her mommy was. She was looking at me, wide-eyed with tears soaking her long lashes. She just stared at me a moment...and then, slowly, a smile spread over her face. It was as if she was saying, "Don't worry about it, momma. We'll learn together."

And that's why mommy-hood is greater than anything else. My girl trusts me...even if I plunge the sucker up her nose...even when I'm dripping with poo looking very much like the creature of the Black Lagoon, and even when I shoot myself in the eye with big, green boogers. She loves me no matter what. That, my friend, is priceless.


November 2010...

Lord, help me remember those moments. Help me to learn to love you when I feel that you're pressing in on me, causing me pain...because you really are not. Let me learn to trust you--completely--amidst the anguish. I want my eyes on You, Lord. Show me. Teach me. Hold me.


~Gia

reposted from EmmaGayle xanga entry from 2006



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A Hero's Kiss Goodbye




Too often in life, extraordinary people pass away and leave a legacy behind worthy of the world’s notice but never receive it. They lived lives that many of us could only dream of, lives that are so rich in history and experience that they are what good books is made of. Pain, sorrow, anguish all mixed together with joy and happiness—that is what makes for an extraordinary life.

Mr. Alex Kiss was this kind of man. He died over the weekend in White House, Tennessee—a tiny little town nestled among beautiful hills that serve as footnotes of time and mystery. He was just a boy in Hungary when the dawn of World War II threatened to change his life forever. When Hitler rounded up young men to serve in the Nazi Youth, Mr. Kiss and his best friend were among them. Thus began his legacy…

I cannot imagine being swept into a movement anything like the Nazi Youth. When I was a child, life was more carefree than what should have been allowed. But to be forced to learn to hate and fight in the way that the Nazis did…is unthinkable. Mr. Kiss and his best friend were handed a gun and a uniform. They were sent out on patrols that I imagine started out innocent enough. The grown men probably offered them their first cigarette on a blistery dark night as they stood nervously clinging to their guns. They would have learned how to use swear words correctly in the rough and tumble military world they were falling into. The hate was all around them. The Jews were bad. They were the root of all evil, the cause of all the world’s problems. They must be held at bay. They must be killed.

I cannot imagine…

Alex Kiss saw hate in its raw form: unadulterated, unleashed, unrestrained and ugly. Eventually, the thin veil fell away and revealed the true intent of what the Nazi Youth was being trained to do. They were to kill—murder their fellow citizens.

Alex was only a boy when he witnessed what the heart of man was capable of. Being drug from their homes, Jewish men were stripped of their clothes in the town square for all to see. In the frigid temperatures, buckets of water were poured over their heads. Some passerby’s mocked the men and ridiculed them. Others tried not to hear the blood-chilling cries of the wife who begged the Nazis to stop only to be silenced by the slap of a hand or crushed by the butt of a rifle. Children cowered, much like Alex Kiss did—confused and afraid of what was happening before their eyes. The nightmare was only finished when the poor Jewish man froze to death, naked, exposed and left lying in the town square.

“Sich in Reih und Glied aufstellen!”

I cannot imagine what must have raced through Alex’s mind as he and his best friend held innocent Jews by gunpoint. His heart must have raced, afraid of what would happen next as Jewish men, women, and even children were lined up along a river. I am sure he stared into the eyes of a boy just like him—eyes wide with fear—heart pounding like mad.

“Feuer!”

When the shots were fired, he flinched. The echo shook the earth and birds exploded from the trees. The world slowed and spun around him as the bodies fell lifeless into the water. Rich, velvety blood was caught up in the rushing ripples that washed over the dead. Tears hung from his lashes as Alex’s breath caught in his throat. What kind of world had he been born into?

It was during the night that he and his best friend decided that they had to escape. They would not become monsters. They refused to kill innocent men and women. They could not watch another child be killed ever again. But it was risky. Anyone caught fleeing would be shot on sight.

“We’ll run.” His friend’s voice was hushed, his eyes serious. “We’ll run and never stop…never look back. Do you hear me?” Alex barely nodded. “If we hear gunshots, we won’t stop. No matter what, Alex, don’t stop!”

It was a dark night with pristine snow casting an eerie look over the land. The men were on patrol when Alex and his friend slipped away. Taking a deep breath, they stared ahead, looked one last time in each other’s eyes where a silent pact shone…

…And then they ran.

The German shouts only made Alex’s legs pump harder, his heart racing. “Keep running!” His friend commanded…

…And then the shots rang out.

Alex flinched, heard a hollow thud in the snow behind him, but he never stopped running. Silent tears slid down his cheeks. His best friend, his co-conspirator in boyhood mischief…was gone.

Over the last many years, Mr. Alex Kiss was just an old Hungarian man to most people in White House, Tennessee. He was a nice man that made friends easily. A member of the White House Methodist Church, he would often visit the church office during the week. This was where he waited for his wife to pick him up for Chemo treatments. He was dying of cancer, but no one would have known it by the life that radiated from him.

He came to the church office to sit a while and talk about nothing in particular with the pretty lady that worked there. She happens to be my Aunt. If you knew her, you would understand why it was the place Alex would want to be before the dreaded Chemo. My Aunt is vivacious, to say the least. She’s easy to talk to, and when you spend time with her, the world doesn’t seem so serious.

On one of these visits, my Aunt’s eight-year-old son happened to notice a strange tattoo on Mr. Kiss’s arm—a faded line of numbers. Like most nosey young boys, Corey asked why he had such a funny tattoo. Alex’s answer came in the form of a story; a story about his best friend and how Alex was captured and imprisoned in a concentration camp. He told him about his days in the Nazi Youth…and the evil that one man sowed in an entire generation of young boys.

Perhaps they were stories that some may deem inappropriate to tell to an eight-year-old boy, but Corey looked at Mr. Alex like one would look at a superhero. Even though Mr. Alex told his stories with tears pouring down his cheeks, to Corey, Mr. Alex was a hero.

Some people die and the world never knows. Though Mr. Alex’s stories may never be read in a thrilling novel, be seen on the silver screen, or grace the headlines of the media—they will forever be hidden in the heart of my cousin Corey. Alex Kiss was his superhero with a legacy that will forever haunt his boyish heart.

May there be more men that live and breathe lives worthy of such boyish praise.


~Gia


NOTE: The above story was originally posted by me on www.fountainheadzero.com
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Get outta my head, Captain!


"For I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future."
~Jeremiah 29:11



I married my husband straight out of high school. I wasn't even eighteen yet. Ten years later, I still love him. I love him even more than I did then. Maybe that's because I know him more now. All the infatuation, new love, excitement of the unknown, has more or less worn off and been replaced with trust and contentment. We are a good team…for better or for worse.

As you could expect, there were a great deal of times that I took a lot of slack for the decisions that I made with my life. People told me that I should have gone to college. Right now, sitting on our bed and typing this out…I still cannot think of a single thing that I would want to go to school to be that I am not already doing. But don't get me wrong! When I was in school, I wanted to be a great deal of things. Third grade, I wanted to be an archeologist. After that, a nurse like my mother. Somewhere along the line, I wanted to join the Navy and be a fighter pilot. Later I wanted to be an artist, a detective, an actress, a firefighter, and a slew of other things that never ended (never once did "writer" or "photographer" enter that line up). But I didn't just want to be one of those things. I wanted to be them all.

Instead, I married Roger and moved to the west coast--losing myself in a world of Marine flight liners and CH-46 helicopters. I was petrified. Mortified, actually, when I realized that my shy-little-self was not going to survive out there unless I changed. Big time. And boy did I! Those boys sure did break up my shell. They destroyed it!

I had a blast in California. It was completely unlike anything Indiana had to offer. I enjoyed being married, having some freedom, learning to do things for myself--even learn how to drive a stick shift (thought my grandma DID have to fly all the way out to San Diego just to do that). It was an exciting life…and growing up, so far, was a walk in the park.

Then I got pregnant.

At first, I felt like I needed to apologize to everyone in my family--especially Roger. We were way too young to have a baby. I was only nineteen! Yet, as soon as the reality of what was happening set in, I was in love with that little baby. I was positively thrilled. Nearly into the second trimester, the baby died.

I think back on that moment--realizing that something was wrong--and I still cannot process how my body, mind, and heart responded. It was my first true heartbreak. I couldn't handle it. It certainly did not help matters that my body was unwilling to cooperate. Though the baby had died, all those inside parts that I won't actually list (in case there is a man that reads) just wouldn't let it go. I was sick. Very sick. After more than a month, I finally had to have surgery to remove the baby in order to keep my body from going into septic shock.

I was only nineteen. Today, I feel so sorry for that girl. Honestly, I do.

A year went by and I suffered a great deal of health problems and bouts with serious depression. But somewhere along the line, I got pregnant again. The baby would be due at the same time as the other one. I was, once again, over the moon with joy. There was no doubt in my mind that I wouldn't hold this baby. Bad luck couldn't happen twice.

When I went home with Roger for Christmas, I again miscarried. I was only pregnant for a little more than 6 weeks. Maybe eight. It is difficult to remember. Losing the baby was even harder at home with family all around. I felt like a failure. I felt as if my grief was on display for everyone to witness--to question--to put a wet blanket on the holiday celebration. And this time, my grief was double than the time before.

Back in California, I still suffered health problems due to the miscarriage. Having one vehicle, Roger would have to take me to the base with him when he left for work. I'd sit in his office reading a book while we waited for my doctor's appointment to grow closer, check out, and head to the hospital. Then, one day, when my husband stepped out of his office, an officer stuck his head into the room and asked me if I would come down to his office for a minute. I followed. What else what I was supposed to do? When we were inside, he closed the door a fraction….

Now, it is hard for me to remember exactly what happened next, as my blood pressure soon shot through the roof. But, pretty much, the officer "encouraged" me to get out of my house and get a life of my own. He told me that I wouldn't be worth much if I "chose to live for my husband" instead of living for myself. He asked me if I had ever wanted to be something when I grew up. He told me to go to college.

I was stunned. Did he think I was so pathetic, that I--a worthless housewife--came to work with my husband every other day out of sheer boredom and neediness? I was mortified. Who did he think he was? He didn't eve know me! It took everything in my power not to cry right there in front of him--or punch him in the nose! I didn't cry until I made it home. It only complicated matters worse that the others guys were starting to give Roger grief, not understanding why he was in and out of work all the time. Not to mention the Navy doctor who told me to stop being a baby and get over the loss of the child all ready! I really sunk low…

Between that moment and the next, I made it up in my mind that all these people had no idea who and what I was meant to be. Didn't they know how awesome I was?!?! ;)

I few weeks later, as my husband and the rest of his squadron readied to deploy for the coming Shock and Awe in the unfurling of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I boldly approached the commanding officer of his unit. I am not even sure how I got the meeting with him in his office. This man was important---VERY important--and sitting in his office is probably one of the most intimidating places I have ever been.

I told him about a photographer in New York City that was photographing the surviving firefighters from September 11th. Her story inspired me. So, I asked the CO if it would be possible for me to come in and photograph our guys? I wanted them to have a portrait of themselves that was not the generic boot camp picture they all receive--very serious and somber. Instead, I wanted them to be in the uniform they wore every day to work, standing out by the 'birds', or in a group with their buddies. Surprisingly, he agreed. For almost a week, the CO halted normal working hours so that I could come in and photograph each and every Marine in his squadron. It was one of the best memories of my life. I remember a long line of Marines snaking around the outside of the hangers waiting for their chance to pose by the CH-46 and chose to smile or be serious. Since it was their picture, I let them chose how they wanted it taken. One of them joked and asked me, "Hey, is this so our mom's will have a picture of us if we get killed over there?" I even got to wear a flight liner's cranial and walk way out on the runway to photograph a few officers who wanted pictures of themselves in the cockpit getting ready to take off. It was a dream for a little skinny girl from Nowhere, Indiana who had wanted to grow up and be a fighter pilot (and I didn't have to go to college to get that moment).

That singular moment hooked me to the art of photography, and since, I've developed a good little living out of it.

But, I'm sure you're wondering what that moment on the flight line has to do with the miscarriages. Well, I have discovered in life that in our most tender of moments, Satan tends to rear that despicable head of his. When I was in the most pain, physically and emotionally, he stepped in and told me a lie: You are worthless. You're uneducated. You will not amount to anything because of stupid decisions you've made. You screwed up. Big! And now there is nothing you can do to fix it!

I promise Satan will show up every time you're in a valley; for time and time again, when I feel like a screw up, I remember that officer and the things he told me. If not him, then I'm reminded of something or someone else that was used to sow a lie into my heart--portraying a negative image of myself. But this is the things, folks…God did in fact create each and every one of us with a purpose. Our purpose may not fit the mold of what the rest of the world is doing, but that purpose is buried deep inside of you somewhere. That purpose may not even by what you wanted to do or what you set out to do. I could have gone to school and become the best nurse that any hospital could hire. Or, I could have joined the military and been sitting high in a Phrog having my picture taken instead…but I didn't. I am twenty-eight years old and still probably looking rather worthless and uneducated to that officer (I have no idea where he even is), but…it won't be long before my purpose grows up and out of me and shines so big that even HE sees it! :) For I was fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving Father. And so were you.


NOTE: Roger's squadron lost four Marines within the first few days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Everyone of those men (except one) had a picture I had taken before the deployment. I will never forget attending a memorial service for those men and seeing my photograph blown up poster-size…and that handsome, smiling face smiling out at his loved ones. It was worth that moment.
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Love Me When I Am Not There For You

I've been casually speaking about some very private and heart-wrenching experiences with select individuals and decided to boldly make a post about it. Maybe no one will read it. Who knows…

Most of our country is experiencing tough economic times, so me standing up and saying, "Hey, me too!" is not really a big deal. But that's not what this post is about. Instead, I want to share how I've come close to letting go of faith and instead, ended up discovering God's truth in the middle of all this crazy mess.

For two years now, my incredibly amazing husband has been in and out of work--but mostly out. Forgive me for taking this paragraph to brag on my husband before I go any further. First and foremost, he is the most incredible man God could have made for me. I like to tell people that we are the perfect match. We don't have a lot in common except our red hot tempers, we can sometimes rival world wars in the heat of our arguments, we are stubborn, foolhardy (in a good way), passionate, day dreamers, hard-as-nails determined, jokesters, adventures, and completely laid out bare before God as nothing but the messed up creatures who He covered in grace at the cross. Thank God for that last part! But all that said...seriously, my husband blows my mind. I freak out and worry and he finds a way to take care of everything. He balanced me. He works hard, is a US war veteran, and has a college degree under his belt. Yet, somehow, at the moment, the economy is just not liking him too much.

Like most people, we paddled along in this mess, frantically keeping our head above water…and then, completely exhausting all resources, we sunk. We are not the first ones. We will not be the last ones…

I will be painfully honest when I tell you that I started to get really confused about my faith when my world seemed to be crashing down around me. Wasn't God supposed to be my provider? Wasn't He supposed to make sure my needs were met? Why wasn't He coming through for me? What had I done? Did I get something wrong? Did we mess something up? Were we not spiritual enough? Were we not loving Him the way that He wanted us to? This had to be some kind of test. That's what it was. God was testing us to see if we would give up on Him or not. I was sure of it. And didn't God know that I was not strong enough for this? Didn't He know that when He decided to put this "test" into place, that I would certainly fail? It wasn't fair. I was set up!

I was wrong. But I didn't know it, yet. God was not, and never has, tested me.

One afternoon, I was cooking my children their lunch. I had a load of clothes in the washer and one in the dryer. The TV was on somewhere in the house and I was doing the usual motherly/wifely things. The kids were sitting at a window laughing over a squirrel when all of a sudden, my daughter turns and says, "Hey, mommy…there's a man outside." As I start over to investigate, everything in the house turns off. It was a man with the electric company who was sent to disconnect our service. This was the second time this had happened. This was the second time we had pinched and scraped…and thought, "We can get it together by such-and-such a date. It will be okay." But it wasn't.

At that moment, something in me snapped. After endless months of worrying and trying so hard; after endless months of trying to pretend that things were going to be okay, I snapped. I took a few steps back, sunk to my knees, balled up my fists, and shouted at the ceiling, "This is all your fault! You did this! You could help us, but you won't!"

I was shaking and crying--shamefully scaring my kids who balked and teared up themselves. My son whimpered and ran to me, stopping just short of jumping into my lap, reached out a hand and placed it over the tears coursing down my cheek. In that terrible, dark moment, I felt as if the Lord whispered, "I just want you to learn to love me when I'm not there for you."

I cried. Honestly, I did not want to learn to do such a thing. The thought of is hurt too much, made me angry…made me feel hopeless. God should always be there for me! That was His job!

That was a while ago. Things aren't any better right now. They are even scarier, believe it or not. However, our lights are on. :) And that's something to thank God for. But since then, I have struggled with what the Lord told me that day. Learn to love Him when He isn't there for me?

I know, I know. You're thinking, "God is always there for us" right? But I picture this scenario with the Lord appearing quite similar to how I am with my children. When I physically am not there to tend to Lucy and Teddy's every need, they still know that I love them. They never doubt my love--even when I discipline them. They get angry, certainly, but they believe in my love. If I cannot learn to love God, trust in Him, continue to stand for Him when my lights are turned off or the threat of losing everything is a very real possibility, how will I be able to love Him if someone I love--myself included--were to get sick? How will I be able to love Him and not blame Him when my first true experience with death comes? And to me, those things are worse than unpaid bills.

But even if it is not the case that there is a lesson to learn here to prepare for something that lays ahead, then His name will end up glorified by this season of our lives. I'm not sure how, yet, but it will. If nothing else, maybe simply because it drove me to write this post...and somewhere out there, it held the message of truth that someone else needed. I have no idea, but I do know He is allowing it to happen for a reason. That reason is NOT because He does not love us, or because Roger and are failing in our walk with Christ, or because we are missing something.

And these are reasons I can still believe in His love:

1. My husband, through all of this, has not turned his back on the Lord or his family and high tailed it to safer waters.

2. I have a family that, though I sometimes fear they are ashamed of us, are not ashamed of us and love us...helping our wherever they can.

3. My beautiful children are able to bring a smile to my face more than once a day.

That's all I need. I have no idea what will happen next, but I do know that God will be blessed the most by the love that I give Him in my darkest hour.


"As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2And His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?" 3Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world."

~John 9:1-5



~Gia
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