The Rest of Me : The Furious Longing



I am reading Brennan Manning's The Furious Longing of God. I haven't made it far in the book, but already it is positively amazing me. This is a man that I can relate to. His heart seems to be shaped and molded much like mine.

He challenges readers by saying, "There is the "you" that everyone sees and then there is the "rest of you." He says to take a moment to craft a picture of what the rest of you might look like...

So here is what I know about me...

What people see:

1. A punk with funky hair that changes monthly in both style and color...
2. Has questionable fashion taste...that gets more and more questionable as time wears on...
3. Mispronounces at least one word in a five minute conversation.
4. Giggles like Betty Rubble...
5. Snorts when she giggles too long...
6. Has flared nostrils and a butt chin...
7. Can blush a stunning shade of red...
8. Laughs at herself, but still blushes...
9. Is a riot to watch lose her temper...
10. Inflicts punches on her guy friends because it simply isn't appropriate to hug them...
11. Doesn't act anyone's age...
12. Makes you shake your head...
13. Can't tell a joke without messing it up...
14. Been told I am intimidating...but I don't 'get' that...
15. A nut...
16. Never wears a different color of nail polish on her toes than what's on her fingernails...
17. Obnoxious...maybe?
18. Gives people nicknames...
19. Will criticize you, if you're a man, on a whimpy handshake...
20. Plain old silly...

What people don't see:

1. I struggle with depression...
2. Am uncomfortable with the male race...seriously.
3. Uncomfortable in my own skin, truth be told.
4. Overcoming a laundry list of insecurities (but aren't we all)...
5.  Have to fight every single day to be a good mother, a good wife, and a good Gia. Period. And I usually I fail in some way or another...
6. Sees with war-tinted glasses instead of rose tinted ones. Sounds less violent than it actually is.
7. Struggle with a great deal of fear...
8. The extreme desires hidden in my heart to be something amazing in this world...changing it.
9. The way my heart swells up with passion over film scores...
10. The daydream I have of fighting in epic battles...with a bow and arrow...
11. Closing my eyes in an old building, breathing deep...imaging I can feel the breath of the house upon me...hear the voices from it's walls (how creepy do I sound right now?!)...
12. How I can dream up characters for stories that I sometimes start to confuse with myself...mingling reality with imagination...
13. The amount of tears I've shed over a lifetime...but how glad I am that God knows.
14. The anger I can hide in my heart...
15. How much it hurts to think about not being loved and truly known.
16. How I want to fix broken hearts of the people I love...and how it hurts when I know I can't...
17. The passions I simply don't know how to bring to life...
18. All the art that has gone in the trash...
19. The words not yet written...
20. The woman I wish I could be.

The god I Sometimes See Who Does Not Exist:

1. The god who doesn't care about what's hidden in my heart: all the hopes and dreams, sadness and fears.

But in TRUTH, He is MY FATHER. He sees what you see when you look at me...and what you do not see. He even sees in me what I have not yet discovered. The same goes for you. What are you hiding away...believing doesn't matter? Fears, shames, pain and secret dreams? Because God sees it all, and it matters greatly to Him. And what glimpses of false gods do you sometimes spy...trying to replace His real face? Write them down. Sometimes, being able to look at it, written down before you, helps pen the truth on your heart, replacing the lies hidden within. Try it...





Click here for a free Amazon download for The Furious Longing of God.


~Gia





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My Home...My Very Own Time Machine

(NOTE: Scroll to the bottom to play a wonderful song to make your reading experience more of an adventure)



Last night, my lady friends and I were talking about our homes and decorative style. I'm crazy, so one can only imagine what my home consists of. Over the past few years, I haven't been able to pour my taste and 'look' into the house as much as I'd like. But things are changing, and soon, so will my home. Yet, as I we were talking, my mind was drawn back to one of the most precious moments I've ever had in my home...

A few years ago, my husband and I were making painfully slow progress on stripping wallpaper out of a bedroom. This home is old, and each layer of wallpaper seemed to reveal another decade, another 'style'...and now, a whole other century. Even our ceilings have layers of wallpaper, painted over with white paint. It's my nemesis. For a very long time, I detested anyone who would ever cover a wall with paper.

But I'm drifting dangerously close to a rant rather than the story at hand...

There was one layer, mid-way through that grabbed my attention. In beautiful penmanship, a man had signed his name and the year...1912.

I was breathless. I stared, lips falling open, at the scrawl of a sharpened pencil across cream paper. This room was once my 'writing room'...the place I sat and let my imagination take me to far away places and distant times. This was the room that held the scent of time and mystery with my piles of old, dusty books; my collection (two, to be exact...which might not qualify as a 'collection') of antique typewriters; shelves with porcelain china dolls dressed in linen with faded painted smiles; God's promises filled in my empty, silver tea service...

And here was the greatest mystery of all, penned on the hated wall paper.

I wish I had kept that scrap of paper. With all my heart, I wish I could go back and carefully peel that paper off the wall and frame it. I look back at the signature as the greatest gift my home has ever given me. When I stood staring at that wall, I could almost smell the man's hair oil, as I picture him a dapper gentleman...creative...the boy version of me (though my craziness would more than likely prevent me from achieving perfect 'gentleman' status). He would wear a plaid shirt, tucked into plain trousers...and suspenders!...and shoes splattered with just a touch of paint. He would have a mind, a gift from the Lord, that looked at the world and found it possessed plenty of scope for the imagination. Hopefully, he knew God's word and allowed it to inspire greatness in him. I pray loved others with an undeniable passion. When he last day came, he would have smiled and had no regrets...remembering his name was hidden away...just for me.

I've told people that I want my home to look as if I own a time machine. I want it to be a place that captures the imagination. This morning, when I was sipping my coffee and thought back on that signature, I realized that God built that 'look' into my home long before I would even take my first breath. He already knew I would be here, trying to leave my own mark on this home, scraping away at the walls, and made sure that I found the message left in the old layers.

The Lord loves me. :) It brings tears to my eyes...thinking of what He did, in the spring of 1912...whispering to the gentleman to write on the wall. "You see, Andrea, my darling one, will see this one day." He would have explained, "She will love it. And because she loves it, the moment she finds it, will bring joy to my heart."

My home truly is my own little time machine. Thank you, Father, for the gift. Please let me find another one, and remind me to save it...and frame it. May we always find the little treasure of mystery that you leave us with.

With all my love,

Your Darling One. 

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For The Love of A Stranger


“Remember to welcome strangers, because some who have done this have welcomed angels without knowing it.”


A few years ago, Roger and I were by ourselves (which must mean this story took place before children). We came to a busy intersection and sat at the red light. Worship music was playing and I was caught up in the lyrics. I turned and looked at the car next to me. It was an older gentleman just staring straight ahead...which was odd, because most people in the right turn lane edge up to check for traffic in order to merge. As we were sitting there, my heart was flooded with love for this man...a complete stranger. I started to thank the Lord for him...praising Him for His goodness in this man's life...asking Him to bless him today...

There were tears in my eyes, the love for this man was that tangible. I smiled. He looked up at the traffic light, and that movement broke the spell. I looked ahead at the lights, too. They were green. Strangely enough, no one moved. We all just sat there, staring at the green...and the lines of cars behind us did not honk. "Why are we not mo--" I started to ask Roger.

The view of the lights was suddenly blocked by a semi barreling through the intersection. He didn't even honk his horn.

I blinked and turned to look at the man in the car beside us. If he had edged up...but he didn't. Not even when the light turned green.

It felt like forever before anyone's foot touched the gas. I was breathless. It was the strangest, most surreal moment. Finally, Roger started into the intersection...slowly...checking for any more wayward semis. As we drove off, I turned back and looked at the man as his car slipped out of view.

This man wasn't an angel, just flesh and blood...a son of the King. He had no idea that a person in the car next to him felt a fraction of the love of God hold's for him. He didn't know I started praising the Lord for him...or that I was praying for the hand of God to be on his life that day. But God did...and His angels were in place...keeping us at bay...standing in front of our cars (I'm sure) with swords unsheathed...keeping us from moving...

"I love you that much," the Lord revealed to me. "I'll set my angels in place...move strangers to pray over you...because I AM in control...of your life...and his."

When I look back at this story, it's not so much that our lives were spared that day. That's a celebration for sure, make no mistake about it. But what my heart and mind focus on is the love that God placed within me for this man...HIS love. It was strong, powerful, overwhelming...and it was only a fraction of what God held for this man.

These days, that phenomenon happens often. I can be in a restaurant, glance up and find someone sitting on the other side of the room and be overcome with a touch of God's love for them. In church...walking through town...even people that are on TV (which is funny to me). God never tell me to go over to them, but just to pray. I hope that sensation never goes away. In fact, I pray that we, brothers and sister in Christ, will all begin to feel that. What would it look like...if we simply began to look at strangers that way that Christ does? If we loved on them, prayed for them, held them, tended to them...the way our Father would/does?

What would we become....




~Gia
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Hope That Does Not Disappoint...


"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." ~Romans 5:1-5 (NASB)



The picture above was taken around the same time that Roger Cooper asked me to marry him. I was fifteen years-old at the time. A few years later, I married him. I don't know what we were thinking, but I am certain that it was part of God's plan. He's proven, time and time again, that He created us to live out our lives together. He made us partners...friends...warriors...together.

Today is our twelfth anniversary. The first year of our marriage is the most memorable. I look back at that year and shake my head. Dirt poor...eating churched-up Ramen and sleeping on an air mattress that deflated by morning. We made so many mistakes...like trying to wash the clothes in the bathtub when we were too proud to ask my parents for quarters for the laundry mat. But, we were thousands of miles from our parents...them in Indiana and us in southern California. The Marine Corps kept stealing my husband for weeks at a time, leaving me stranded in our apartment because I didn't know how to drive a stick shift. It was an adventure, for sure.

We messed up together, Roger and I. Rebelled together. Got in trouble together. Did things we shouldn't have together. We were growing up together...

One of my most surreal memories is the first time I kissed him goodbye for deployment. It was at San Diego Bay on a Navy Pier. The USS Boxer was anchored, Marines and Sailors loading. It wasn't even dawn yet...the air thick and salty...cold. We stood in the parking lot, holding each other for as long as we could before the final kiss goodbye. But I couldn't leave, even after I watched him walk down the pier (I think he was wearing his leather biker jacket, actually...in civies...Sea Bag slung over shoulder...but maybe my romantic brain is dreaming that part up). But I didn't leave until the ship pulled out of the harbor. I stood there for hours...watching other couples kiss goodbye. When the ship was gone, I drove back to our apartment, packed it up myself and flew home to Indiana.

Sigh...

Twelve years.

We've been through so much in what seems like a short time. Deployment, war (for some reason, that kiss goodbye wasn't nearly as hard), lost babies...moves across country, job loss and poverty. There are countless 'little' crisis mixed among all the life-altering ones. But I like to focus on the amazing things that happened during the hard times. Two impressive babies were gifted to us right at the exact moment we had given up...right when we let hope slip from our fingers...the moment when God's promises felt more like something we made up out of our own pain. I remember Roger hovering over me as they placed Lucy on my chest...all white and slimy. We both cried, tears rolling. God HAD promised her to us. We stopped believing...almost...and in that moment, we had her. Teddy...well, that was just God showing off. Literally.

After Teddy was born, life got harder than it had ever been...even harder than our experience with war. Roger lost his job and life just sorta started falling apart. But God winked at us from time to time. He promised things...better things. But time stretched on with one struggle after another. Yet, there was the time we prayed for a van (almost sarcastically, not really expecting) and less than two weeks later, a very nice van was simply given to us. We survived. And just when it felt we could take no more...that we were sinking deeper and deeper...years later...God blessed Roger with a job that far out-weighed expectations...or our needs. He showed off, once again. (That job happened less than two weeks ago!)

But that's not what is praise worthy...

WE GREW!

Praise God, we grew independently and as a couple. We grew spiritually. In the struggle, He brought our God-give talents to the surface and let them shine. He anointed Roger's ability to lead people to the gates of Heaven through praise and worship. Hallelujah...He made us something broken but very useful. He gave us sight when we were blind to compassion and grace. He planted in us a heart for other ragamuffins, broken-hearted, the rejected and persecuted. Out of our brokeness...He made something more beautiful than we could have become without the storms. Praise God He gave us the storms. I couldn't be more thankful for them.

I know there will be more storms. This isn't the end. But right now, I certainly am thankful not to be as blind as I was twelve years ago when I said, "I do."


"I Love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life..."


Thank you, Father...for the twelve years You've blessed us with. I wouldn't change a thing. It has been orchestrated by Your hand...and You've allowed everything to happen because You see something beautiful on the horizon. I love You for it. Twelve years is linen and silk...but you gave us something far more valuable when you gave us the hard times (Ummm...but...don't think this means it's all I ever want!).




~Gia



PS: Heaven help the boy should he have the courage to ask MY daughter to marry him when she is only 15! ;)










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