Victor, The Conqueror

The Children In The Alley

 Again.

Again, it is one of those days that the sun is dipping on the horizon and the house is growing restless and I have realized I haven't yet blogged.

I blame it on the weekends.

Weekends are a flurry of activity and family adventure. They are the days when we run errands and buy groceries and toilet paper (seriously bought toilet paper this weekend). They are the days that we sleep in and stay up late and pretend that we are only semi-adults.

It's perfect.

And now there is our new, weird Sunday. Sunday we get up super early and drive downtown Indy to feed the homeless. We have a little church service and I make friendships with the men in the alley and hear their stories. Lucy serves coffee (her favorite part) and Teddy and London just do whatever it is they want to do. But there is always our faithful guardian--Victor. Victor is probably eighteen years old, and he describes himself as, "A beautiful, Latino, Black man." Victor protects my little family and watches over us. He has a brain that is filled with incredible knowledge of public buses and rock and roll music.


I have gathered, to the best of my ability, that Victor is very autistic. After asking him questions over the last week, I've learned that he has no family in the area in which he can live with. Today, he told me that his sister lives in Boston near their grandma, but he hasn't been to Boston since he was four years-old. His father is dead, and a "vanilla colored man with yellow hair" told him that he couldn't live with his mom anymore.

Victor is not a drunk. He does not do drugs. He tells me what things I can eat that are "clean" and what things I can eat that are "unclean." He told me that whiskey is evil and impure and you should never, ever try it. Today he told me all about the Jewish feast holidays and pronounced them all in beautiful Hebrew. He also told me that he wished he could hear a bagpipe section in Gavin Rossdale's music. Last week, he wanted Neil Young to add a bell section to "Rockin' In The Free World." He has a brain for the fine details of life, and he knows so much about music, yet he likes to put it all together in his own unique, imaginative way....

And I love it.

Victor is the kind of young man that might not make it far in this life. There is no one to take him in and guide him. There's no way he can provide for himself. He's just not capable without a great deal of help and coaching. A few weeks ago, he got in trouble with the police because some "gangsters" were beating him up and he couldn't communicate what had happened when the police arrived. He panicked and shouted, and, thankfully, one of the officers seemed to understand that Victor was special. He got him back to the homeless mission and explained to him that it wasn't a good idea to yell at the police and run...or anything else that could get him hurt. The officer told Victor that not all policemen might understand that he just needed extra help. I'm thankful for that, but worried about it, too.

I've made my mind up to take Victor out one afternoon. Maybe in the fall. My whole family will take him out and spend a family day with him. I know it could go south really fast, but I can't get the idea out of my head. The way he looks at my children, and Roger, and me when we walk into the alley--it's like he sees a bit of home.

This is Victor keeping watch over me--keeping me safe from vampire mosquitoes.

I love him.

I'm glad I know him.

And I hope that we build a world where men and women like Victor always have a safe place that feels like home--with people to include them and hug them.

Please be kind, World.

Please be kind and find your own Victor to love and encourage and allow him to not feel so very alone.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

~Gia
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Super Amaze-Balls Dad

This is one of those days in the 90 day blogging challenge that the day slips away and I realize that I failed to write anything. I was getting ready for bed and gasped, turned horrified eyes on Roger and said, "I forgot to blog!" And he goes running around in a panic asking me where the notebook is.

So here we are.


He's sitting on the love seat leisurely perusing his Facebook feed on his phone and I am sitting here stress sweating, trying to figure out what to post.

Last weekend, I had this moment where I looked across the bed at Roger and as he tossed the decorative pillows off the bed in preparation to climb inside for the night, I told Roger, "This blogging everyday business is really hard. I never know what to write about!"

He cast this boyish grin across the bed and told me, "You should probably write about what an amazing dad I am. I mean, I built a dang trampoline in this heat."

I laughed, but Roger was right. Because of his deployment to the Middle East in 2003, Roger cannot tolerate extreme fluctuations in temperature. I used to make fun of him for it, but I don't anymore. I've seen his physical reaction to it enough times now to realize that he's not being dramatic...

But when Lucy started anti-epileptic medications, we took her out of gymnastics while we increased her medication. This did nothing to help her emotional well-being. In response, my grandma bought Lucy a trampoline where she could practice her flips safely. In the 90+degree heat and near same humidity, Roger went and disassembled the trampoline downtown and came back and assembled it in our back yard. He never made a single complaint. He never lost his temper. He just kept plugging away, putting the pieces together, Lucy chatting a mile a minute, and put the whole dang thing together with sweat dripping off the tip of his nose....

And when it was finished, the kids jumped on it for maybe 5 minutes and then went inside claiming it was too hot...


So here I am. It's after ten at night. We have to get up super early to feed the homeless in the alley, and I am writing you to tell you what an amazing man I married. I chose him. I chose him because he had all the muscles and the Leo DiCaprio hair, and a beautiful smile. I married him because he snuggled me up and tended to me when my heart was broken. I married him because he was the only man I wanted to kiss and be with forever. I made three beautiful babies with him...

And he built a trampoline in the miserable, jungle-like, Indiana humidity.

Because he is amazing.

~Gia
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If I'm A Lion, She's A Lion :: Heritage



It came to my attention that perhaps I am the kind of woman who feels the fierce need to fight for people because of my relation to a pretty ballsy woman that lived during the Revolutionary War. This was only brought to my attention last night (and I’ve been busy all day teaching a crochet pattern) but I wanted to quickly share about this lady as a reminder to myself to dig deeper into her life.

Mercy Otis Warren was born September 14 1728 and died on October 19, 1814. She was a descendant of Edward Doty (direct descendant) who arrived to the colonies on The Mayflower. Mercy was one of thirteen children and the first daughter (I’m the first daughter, but I am also the only daughter, so…). Mercy, being only a female, was not offered tutors for formal education as her brothers were, but that didn’t stop her. She often sat in on her brother’s lessons and learned as well. Her brother, James, went on to attend Harvard and it is said that he encouraged Mercy’s education and considered her as an equal on all fronts.


Later in life, Mercy married James Warren in 1754. They settled together in Plymouth were James was the sheriff. James lived out a highly successful political career in which Mercy too, was active. He served as the Speaker of The House of Representatives in Massachusetts and even Paymaster to George Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War. Mercy was very outspoken and an accomplished writer, all of which her husband encouraged her in. She fiercely defended equality, a republic style of government, and civil and religious liberty.

Mercy’s literary and political voice was well recognized among her male peers. She was a force to be reckoned with and not to be taken lightly simply because of her sex and lack of formal education. John Adams, who would later become the second president, wrote to James Warren about his wife:

"Tell your wife that God Almighty has entrusted her with the Powers for the good of the World, which, in the cause of his Providence, he bestows on few of the human race. That instead of being a fault to use them, it would be criminal to neglect them.”

Isn’t that just amazing?

Mercy published many of her works, plays and poems under her true name—something unthinkable for women at her time. She broke the rules and called people out when she felt they needed called out. She did not hesitate to let people hear her thoughts and ideas, even if they did think they were treasonous or heretical. She stood up and shouted, fought, rallied, and caused hell for those I imagine truly wished she had never learned to read or write—truly wished she was more domestic and feminine.



The final paragraph on Mercy’s wiki page is too perfect not to share. I plan to search out biographies and learn more about this woman’s life. I want to be like her—a lioness…a stirring writer…a voice that is heard.

What a helluva a woman.

I might not get a wiki page, but I'm gonna cause a  ruckus.



“Warren proved her ability to resonate to her colonial audience, men and women alike, despite the limited opportunity for women in her time. Furthermore, she proved courageous in being willing to put forth work calling out the authoritative power while raising a family, yet she was humble and practical in how she presented the commentary through quieter presentations. Her success was never above her personal dignity. She never took any political affiliation post-Revolution or a career having anything to do with politics. She said to her son, “The thorns, the thistles, and the briers, in the field of politics seldom permit the soil to produce anything… but ruin to the adventurer,” yet the public would not let her retire from commentating on the political conflicts of her later days.She concentrated her writing on strict political matters wrote many more short dramas, poems, and essays throughout wartime and post-Revolution with a commentating and critical voice.”


~Gia
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Inviting God :: Wisdom From Mr. Wylie


 Years ago, my dear Tennessean friend, Mister Wylie, taught me about inviting God to share the little moments with me. If you read yesterday's post about promise tea, this idea of sitting down with God was something that grew out of long conversations with Mister Wylie on the porch of Cragfont and at his daughter Rachel's kitchen table well after dark.

God desires our company--that's why we are here. He loves us and wants to be near us. I am positive this is why we desire the company of those whom we love. It should come as no great surprise to us how it brightens God's heart when we ask if we can do simple things with him: have coffee, ride in the car, and even run...

I was delighted to open my email this morning and find my usual devotional written by Rachel where she wrote a lovely reminder of just that. In this story, Rachel writes about asking God if she can run with Him. I love the mental images this gives me...as if God was already running, already wearing his jogging clothes and running shoes, sweating, heart thumping, hair in His eyes...

Please take the time to read Rachel's words here...and if you're a running, try asking your Father if you can run with him. You will be surprised by what happens.

~Gia
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Promises and Redeeming Them With Gold :: Kintsugi

Courtney is the friend that God stitched into my life to help me understand promises and dreams. Years ago, probably close to ten years ago, we were both struggling with the hope and idea that we would one day be mothers. We prayed for each other and sent words of encouragement, but after months and months faded into the distance it became harder to stand in trust of The Lord. It was hard not to give up hope and become angry and heartbroken.

So, one day, God spoke to my heart about the quiet moments I needed to share with Him when I was tempted to trade my hope for sorrow. I decided to have these quiet moments over tea and blankets and tears. However, the tears quickly dried and His gentle Spirit wrapped around me in such a way that it felt as if a father had wrapped me in his strong, powerful and capable arms. The fear and heartache faded.

This began the story of the promise tea pots. I found a silver tea service and sent it to Courtney with a note. Whenever she was tempted to give up on the promises of God, she was supposed to fill the teapot and sit down and invite her Heavenly Father to sit with her. Everything else would happen in His time, but the comfort that would come to her in those quiet moments would help restore the energy it would take to keep pushing ahead.

Courtney and I are both mothers today. God fulfilled His promises to us. He has blessed us with the children we so desperately longed for. You would think that would be the end of the promise tea pot—the end of the struggle—but, oh, no, not even at all.

Life is a series of struggles and storms; some are less frightening than the next, but they all have the power to weaken our resolve. The promise tea pot grows a little less shiny and develops a fine patina. It takes a diligent woman to continue to keep the silver polished and pour more hopes and dreams into it…

But what happens if careless fingers, or one of those beautiful little children that came to be, knock a piece of the chine tea set off it’s place of honor? What happens when life leaves hairline cracks upon our promises, our goals, and our dreams? What do we do with the pain that aging brings, the fear that parenting gives, and the fears that new days toss at us?



He fixes us with gold…

Something pure and strong and beautiful.

He will not fail us.

Ever.


Our Father will faithfully keep His eyes upon the desires we hide in our hearts and guard from the jackals. He will be the watchman in the tower who watches over them and protects them from the darkness of night. And though the vine might be slow in producing fruit, and maybe the harvest is long in coming, it is still there—far more beautiful than we ever could have anticipated. All the blood sweat and tears we thought we had wasted in the hoping, in the dreaming, will have been redeemed with gold.


And this is like kintsugi.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kintsugi The old Japanese art form of repair is what God does for my hopes and dreams. The pieces of promises I’ve collected over the years to remind me—such as the bluebird of happiness coffee mug—they’ve been bruised by life, but the gold not only makes them functional again, it makes them more beautiful and interesting.



So do not give up.

Do not give up on Him.

We will walk out of this with something better than what we thought we would have before the storms rolled upon on.

We will walk out of this with windblown hair and bright eyes full of vigor and joy…

And we will be covered in gold.

Our lives will be covered in gold.




~Gia
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Thy Kingdom Come :: Truly Loving Others


 I believe there is a very important reason Christ is so important in our everyday lives, and it is this: He made religion simple.

Perhaps we can’t fully appreciate this the way the early Christians might have. After all, we have never had to offer up dead animals for sacrifice for various wrong-doings.

However, in the modern church today, we have found ways to cover up the simple message of Jesus Christ with works to do of our own. We have found distractions and painted a whole new picture that does little to further the real message of Christ.

What is that message?

Paul says it is this:

“With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, Which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” 
~Ephesians 1:9-10 (NIV)

It is that last line that gives me pause: To bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

Today, there is nothing close to unity in this world, most especially within our own nation. We are deeply divided. We have firm walls between the church and the LGBTQ community. We are trying to build physical walls between us and our neighboring countries. Our fear and misunderstanding of Islam is quickly forming violent walls between us and Muslims both within our country and on the other side of the world. We are marching in the streets shouting, “Black lives matter!” in an attempt to get society to recognize injustices and prejudice that continue to divide us as Americans. The other side screams back, “All lives matter!”

I do not believe this is the way of Christ. I do not believe this is what God wants for His children—and we are all His children, even those who have not yet been awaken to His love are still His children. When the people of the New Testament asked Christ how they should pray, He gave them what would become known to us as The Lord’s Prayer. One line of the prayer says, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

I think that’s important. I truly believe that God has always wanted us to build His kingdom here on earth by living out the love, grace, and compassion His son displayed. Jesus sat with the sinners and outcasts and ate with them. He healed the lepers, the blind, the beggars and the bleeding woman—all people who would have been misfits in their society. And He didn’t just heal them, He put His hands on them—He made physical contact that no one else would have dare done. He sat at the well and spoke with the sinful woman. He saved the life of a prostitute…

You see, Christ broke down society’s walls. He broke all the rules in the name of loving freely and unconditionally. Today, we pretend that we do that, but we say that we must love while speaking “truth”. This means that Christians today tell people that they are sinful and destined to hell unless they believe in the love of Jesus Christ (okay, perhaps not in those exact words, but you now how it goes). That’s how they are “speaking truth in love” in order to save souls. How’s that delivery working out? Not so well.

If we could just be good and kind and loving, tearing down barriers and walls and forge friendships and relationship, the light of Christ would be seen and things would begin to change. You DO NOT have to speak truth in order for the truth to be given and understood. In fact, for most of us today, we are doing far too much talking, and if we could shut our mouths and try hard to live like Christ, things would change. We would find a nation and world that became at peace with one another. We would find ourselves at harmony and living together in unity. We would find that His Kingdom was being built on earth as it is in heaven.

I know. You’re thinking that this is not realistic. I understand that. We are awfully pretentious creatures that love a good fight. But if it wasn’t possible, why would Jesus tell us to pray it?

Listen friends, it’s easier to fight and talk. It’s much harder to love like Christ and accept that at the moment we are a mess and it’s going to take a lot of effort on our part to build bridges and love those that are far different than us. It’s going to take a lot of effort on our part to shut up and start getting to work building community, relationship and friendships. It’s going to hurt to put aside our differences and our belief that we are “right” in order to listen to other people and try to understand them. It might scare the daylights out of you to stop fearing people that are different than you in order to befriend them and understand them (stop being afraid of Muslims). You might want to refuse to put your weapons away and give up your right to physically hurt someone that might hurt you. And it’s going to sting to try to stop converting people and “saving” them and simply be there for them, loving them, taking care of them, and letting Christ shine through us. Because that’s the first step. That’s what tears down walls. That’s what will allow God to step in and start laying the foundations of His truth as the beauty of His kingdom rises…

That is what will restore us and unite us.

So, please, stop talking for a while. Find someone that is far different that you and have coffee with them. See how you can serve them. How can you come alongside them and be their friend?

Allow there to be room for mystery…

Allow there to be room for Him to work…

He’s going to take care of this mess and restore us…

Be still and know that He is God. 

~Gia
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I Will Be The Weed, Not The Flower

I think that gardening is stupid. It leaves dirt under your nails. It leaves you covered in poison ivy. It is an endless task that leaves you going out every few days to rip more weeds out of the earth. Your back hurts. Your knees are filthy. Sweat is burning your eyes...

And the pretty things you plant are only pretty for a short amount of time before fall and winter claim them.



This is not to say that I don’t garden. I try my best to do so because my lady neighbor seems to appreciate it when I nearly kill myself out there in the heat trying like hell to tame the jungle that Indiana provides. Mulberry bushes! Oh, how I hate you! And you cute little birds that find nutrition and substance by eating their fruit and then sit along the edge of the house and poop…giving me new sprouts of mulberry bushes! Oh, how I hate you!

But here’s the thing:

Life is like gardening. We are all growing, right?

One time, a darling lady posted a devotional blog post about how sin is like the weeds in the garden and we have to careful and diligently pull them out to keep the weeks from choking out the life of the pretty flowers.

Bah!

 
I want to be the weeds! I want to be the weed that grows rampant and violently—evasive and determined to take over and own the space. I want to grow wild and tall and vine up and down everything around me. I want to survive and grow stronger and stronger until it takes massive doses of poison to kill me because my roots are so deep and powerful.

Did I just scare you? Sounds scary, right?

Yet, the weeds were the natural things that grew in that soil before someone came along and ripped them out and planted something they thought was more beautiful there—something that is only temporary and cannot survive the test of time. As soon as that person disappears and fails to protect the delicate flowers from the weeds, they shrivel up and die as the natural things return and reclaim their land.

Now, I realize someone out there might come along and read this and twist it around so that it appears that I am saying sin is natural and I want to be sin and take over the world.

That. Is. Not. What. I. Am. Saying. 

 
I am saying that I want to be something real and true that lasts. I want to be something that keeps growing and growing beyond what society thinks is pretty—beyond something what society thinks is acceptable. I want to serve a Father that is real and true and not one painted up pretty and served from a flowery pulpit. I want to be the kind of Christian that can walk through the fire and grief and pain and learn to walk with others through their fire, their grief, and their pain. I want the real, natural things of God. Not the pretty flower

So if I am going to be a plant that takes over and grows with insane power, I suppose I will be something like poison sumac. At least that way you will think twice before trying to get rid of me…

And you will need all the protective gear in order to rip me out.

Yep.

That’s what I will be.

~Gia

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Dream Catchers :: More Than Superstition

When times get tough, one gets very creative and artistic to help make ends meet. One of the things I have always done is figure out a way to use my creative talents to make money. So I've been making dream catchers. I love them. I love the bohemian look--the ability to transform a room into a bit of time and mystery. There are so many textures and layers--so much opportunity for creative input and endless ideas.



But what's the story of dream catchers?

We all know that they are meant to help us sleep better with fewer nightmares. But there is so much symbolism in all the parts. The hoop of the dream catcher was a key part to Native Americans. The hoop represented unity and wholeness. It also represented equality and showed those within the tribe that there was no one greater than another. What a marvelous idea! Such a marvelous idea that we are still at war with one another today fighting for equality. How terribly sad.

The circle could represent so much more once you began to add shapes inside the circle. Click here to learn more about the significance of the simple circle shape within Native American culture.

Within the circle of a dream catcher, there is a woven web, and within the center of the web, there is a circle. People would hang the dream catcher above their bed, dangling in the open and hanging encumbered. The dreams of the sleeping person beneath would be filtered through the center of the hoop. Good dreams would know how to make it through the hole in the center before falling down the tendrils and feathers that dangled underneath the hoop and fall upon the slumbering person below. The bad dreams would not know how to make it through the center and would be caught in the web.


But this is only a simple understanding about the lore of dream catchers. There is a true history of dream catchers that comes with a fascinating story of a talking spider and an Indian elder. The spider spun a web in a hoop and taught the elder, saying, "The web is a perfect circle with a hole in the center. Use the web to help your people reach their goals, making good use of their ideas, dreams and visions. If you believe in the great spirit, the web will filter your good ideas and the bad ones will be trapped and will not pass." (Click here to read this story in it's entirety)

Isn't that beautiful?


All around my house, I have countless dream catchers that I have made and listed in my Etsy shop, Rogue n' Rascal. They are waiting to be sold, but I don't mind the wait. They are beautiful works of art that carry a depth of wisdom so much more complex than simply us wishing and hoping to avoid nightmares. The web is in a perfect circle that represents that we are all equal. We all have hopes and dreams and talents and ideas. But if we have nothing greater than ourselves to believe in, we are likely to get tangles within the web and fall short. But the belief in a higher power--a Great Spirit--a Heavenly Father, perhaps--will help filter our bad ideas from our good ones. With that higher wisdom on our wise, we just might, hopefully, have a chance to make it in this crazy world.

And I like the hope and symbolism in that.

"Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings." -JFK

~Gia
2

Hottest Day in Indiana


 Here is proof that the moment you are in; the heat you are suffering at the moment; the trial you are currently suffering through, is not the worst thing ever:

July 14, 1936 was the hottest day in recorded history of the great state of Indiana at a whopping 116 degrees.

What about all fifty states?

California wins the prize when it topped 134 degrees on July 10, 1913 in Greenland Ranch.

Climates have gone through natural ebbs, as history shows us, but much of what we are experiencing now could have been and can still be prevented. It's pressing, indeed, because we live in a time that has a human population greater than any other time in history. If our climates begin to change and destroy the way some of us farm for food and gather water, humans will have to move in mass to find a better and more sustainable place to live. Imagine what that will look like? It would quickly become rather chaotic.

Right now, Syrians have had to undergo a historical migration from their homeland because of the destruction war has brought to their country. Many countries (America most especially) have scoffed at the idea of letting Syrians into their country for safety and a new life. Now imagine what would happen if other nationalities had to migrate away from their original homeland in order to survive and flourish?

War.

War is what would happen.

This is why discussing climate change and the ways we can help make this change easier is so desperately important. If we cannot fathom the idea of allowing the masses into our country now, we must be willing to do the work to save our own resources and the resources of our neighbors.

We can make a difference.


Please take the time to read the articles linked throughout the text. Information helps when we are feeling doubtful about the truth of some topics. We need to make changes for the sake of our children and their future.

Be sure to check out Micah Challenge here:

~Gia
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Lucy Update


From Lucy's Desk :: She Loves To Draw

At the moment, Lucy is busy in the kitchen frying potatoes. Working in the kitchen without the aide of her mother brings her a sense of accomplishment and great joy. Yesterday she fried me eggs and then eggs in a nest (SO MUCH FOOD!). She sat beside me and watched me take a bite and asked, "What do you think, mommy?" I said that it was delicious (which it really was) and she started to cry. "It's just happy tears, mommy," she explained, embarrassed. "I know it's silly."

Lucy's medication causes her to have little control over her emotions and temper. She is struggling with getting incredibly frustrated and angry with her brother. To be fair, her brother doesn't often make it easy. A few times, she has flown off and punched him in the arm and immediately started crying because that's not what she wanted to do. The tears just infuriate her and she sometimes runs off to her room or outside to the swing hanging from the huge oak tree. I can see her from the kitchen window as she sits out there. She looks so defeated and confused. She talks to herself--like she's trying to reason with herself--or she sings. One day she cut all the tall leaves from the lilies and tied them into cute little bell-shaped dolls. She did that until she was calm enough to come back inside and be around the rest of us. "I made this," she said, handing me the doll. "It helped."

Most of her seizure activity happens at night. She isn't aware of it until she wakes up soaked in urine. She used to try to hide it, ashamed, but we have finally convinced her to wake us up and let us know so we can help her change her bedclothes and get her comfortable again. This activity prevents her from sleeping well, as you can imagine. It also causes a great deal of embarrassment. She sees her friends across the street having sleepovers. They never invite her (which makes me sad) but I know Lucy is secretly glad they don't invite her. She had one sleepover at her grandma's and had a seizure that caused her to soak the bed. My mom found her sitting in the room with her head in her lap, the light on, not knowing what to do because she didn't want to have to wake grandma up and explain.

Being social with kids her age is difficult for Lucy. She is about the size of a younger teenager. She has already hit puberty and is maturing. The girl's her age are half her size and still look very much like little girls. Because of this, I think her peers think she's weird--besides the fact she sometimes has absent seizures that probably look odd to those around her who don't understand. She has come home on more than one occasion in tears but her daddy put a stop to that by talking to the girls and their daddys.

All in all, Lucy is doing an extraordinary job and I am very proud of her. I know this is hard and confusing, but she's a trooper. She did so well last year in school suffering through seizures at a time when we didn't understand what she was dealing with. I know she will handle this year well, too. She can't do gymnastics at the moment, which breaks her heart, but we keep plenty of art supplies at the ready for her. If she can keep her hands busy, she seems to find a measure of peace. The girl LOVES to create, just like her mommy and daddy.

What's my biggest fear? I am afraid Lucy will have a seizure during the night that she struggles to come out of. She holds her breath during seizures and I try hard not to dwell on that for very long because I won't sleep either. The other night, I found myself staring at her as she slept--watching her body tremble and jerk. I cried and decided I just had to go to sleep and let her be. God has to take over for me...

And I have to be willing to trust Him.

~Gia
2

Keeping Cool In The Dog Days

It's getting hot and humid in this Hoosier jungle we live in. It's the kind of heat that's thick and sits like a boulder on your chest. It's the kind of heat that causes the air conditioner in the house to struggle to keep up pace.  So today I am closing all the drapes and blinds to keep the sun out. The house is dark and feels like a cave, but it will help keep us cooler during the day.

But what did our ancestors do? Surely they didn't just love the heat? I imagine they hated sweating as much as we did and suffered heat stroke and dehydration. So what tricks did they have to keep cool?

Well, here you go:


Ancient Romans used their handy dandy invention of aqueducts to keep their house cool. The system that ran through the entire city also circulated cool water through the walls of their homes. The Romans were pretty amazing, really. Their homes were designed in such a way to keep them as self-sufficient as possible.

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Ancient Persians created wind towers to keep cool air circulating through buildings. This is, of course, was and ancient architectural design but is still used in many modern places in the Middle East. It's green, so perhaps we should investigate how to apply it to modern life here? Maybe? No? Too much of an eye sore?
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 Ancient Hebrews prepared for the heat by planting certain crops like melons and cucumbers that were like gold to them. Not only were they used for different types of cleansing, but they also had a cooling affect when eaten. I'm sure you've noticed this, right? They were so valuable to them that they set out watchmen to guard the crop from jackals that would raid the gardens during the night.

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A homeless man I met a few weeks ago proudly explained to me that in the South, where he was from, you eat small meals during the day of crisp, cool salad greens to keep you cool in the heat. 

******


Just live underground. I mean, early man started to bake in the summer heat and saw a dark cave, right? He wandered inside and cooled off and decided that it was as good a place as any to make home. Early Americans did much the same by living in dugout homes. But even today, we see some pretty stylish sub-terrain homes being built in order to maintain a smaller green footprint. It might not be your cup of tea, but someone is living happy and comfortable in their chic version of cave living.

******


Home Design. There is a reason that colonial homes had such high ceilings and narrow, tall windows. The high ceilings allowed the heat to rise. The transoms over the window allowed circulation to pass through rooms and hallways. Upper levels were only used at night, and if you were lucky, your house might have a tower built in that allowed heat to vent and exit the house.

******


That southern, deep porch wasn't just for rocking and sipping mint juleps. The deep porch not only created a good amount of shade up close to the house, but it also got people out of the house into whatever breeze they could catch. It provided a great opportunity to socialize with neighbors and share news, both good and bad. What a beautiful thing.

******
 

Pre-Civil War plantations put slave children to work fanning the house occupants with palm branches and personally pulling and tugging at their home-built version of an early ceiling fan.  I know, I know. The photo I have supplied is from a fictional movie, but you try to find a photograph of real-life slave children fanning Southern elite. I couldn't find one.


******


The Victorians invented the ceiling fan. They already had fantastic home design and floor plans that allowed for circulation and cooling, but the addition the ceiling fan helped improve upon what they had to work with. They had homes with deep, pocket doors and deep windows with awnings and shutters. They also used lace curtains to filter the sun's heat but allow light into the darkness and heavy drapes to pull when even that was not enough.

******


Texans also built their homes with heat in mind. They entrance to the home had a long hallway that ran from front to back with a door at both ends. This sucked in a breeze that kept air moving throughout the entire house. The ceilings were as high as 12 feet with transoms over all the doors to keep air passing from room to room.

******


Water fountains used to be frequented in cities and towns. They were sometimes as big as troughs to allow passerby's more than just a drink of water.

******


Ice Blocks. People not only used them to keep their ice boxes at home cool, but to keep themselves cool in the heat. They chipped off pieces and ate them or wrapped them in cloths to drape over the back of their necks. They also put chips of ice in front of fans to blow cool, moist air into the room.

******


Desperation called for all kinds of wild measures such as refrigerating bed sheets and hanging wet, laundered clothes in the doorways so an afternoon breeze would draw the cooler air through the wet clothing and cool those standing nearby. It also called for the invention of bathing costumes where folks could take refuge from the heat and soak in their oceans, lakes and rivers.

******

 
Trees. Shade trees are still a beautiful thing, even today. And how beautiful. This is a timeless opportunity that connects us to our ancestors. Each time we seek shelter under a large oak or maple, we are doing something that even they would do. We might not have as many trees today, but we sure as heck can change that.

So there you go. Fun facts for your VERY HOT Thursday afternoon.

~Gia



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The Talented Music Duo and The Cooper Kids


 The past few days have been an adventure for the children. Teddy has told anyone that will listen that we are "hosting" some music friends. These are friends that daddy made his first year at Summer NAMM--Dillan Witherow and his beautiful lady pal, Abbygail. They are on a music tour and stopped through Indy for a few shows. Our house made a decent place to sleep and rest...

Or so they thought.

...Or so we hope. 

The thing about the Cooper children is that they LOVE to entertain. There were shows to be seen, of which Teddy waved the $1.00 entrance fee for anyone that lived in our house, or those that were being hosted in our house. He performed parkour tricks and magic tricks (until Mommy convinced him that they needed a moment to relax from his parkour) and even dug out his guitar to perform a jam session with Dillan. Teddy was pleased as punch when Dillan helped him strum along with him and make up a song about Teddy, The Hardcore Parkour Man. Lucy sang Zombie from The Cranberries in the other room in between filming videos of her brother and Dillan jamming. London waltzed around in her new panties eating potato chips...

And I just shrugged and explained that these children are just like their daddy. They love people. They love music. They love tricks. And they love to be in the spotlight.

This evening before Dillan and Abby started off toward Niagara Falls, they performed a song in our living room since the children and I didn't get to attend one of their shows. I couldn't take my eyes off Lucy and Teddy's faces. Teddy looked emotional and very serious. Lucy couldn't stop smiling--bashful and in awe. London danced a little before clinging to Teddy's arm as if to say, "ARE YOU HEARING THIS?! ISN'T IT 'MAZING?!"

Now the children are tucked into bed falling asleep to "their best friend's" (as Teddy now calls them) album. They're content. They're proud. They're so incredibly blessed...

We are blessed, indeed, when God connects us with beautiful human beings who love Him and love others in such a genuine way that they are able to make little children feel like family--like best friends. I don't think my littles will forget these past few days. I'm sure they've been inspired and will hide this away as a dream of their own to achieve. I am pretty sure Teddy is already praying that he will very soon get over his singing-in-front-of-people fear. Bless his heart. And Lucy? I am sure she will latch on to this CD like she has Adele and Lorde and practice mimicking Miss Abby's singing voice as she has done all the other female vocalist that inspire her.

Good luck on the rest of the tour, Dillan and Abby. I know God is smiling down upon you. You are making Him proud. You are spreading His love and passion...

And you're always welcome here at the Cooper home.



This quote rings true now that we've spent a bit of time with Dillan and Abby, and I know Abby will appreciate it:


“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
 
– C.S. Lewis


  ~Gia
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I Am Mister Fairchild



Today I walked to my local library not knowing they had an estate sell of books--many of which were quite old and beautiful. I giggled. It was like a candy store! "Fill a bag up for $3.00," they said. And the tears took over my eyes...

Maybe it wasn't that dramatic. 


Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress published in 1894.
I stuck this book in the bag because of my love for Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" in which the sisters play out the different parts of the book and build their castles in the sky.


The start of the book begins with an apology for the book written by the author. How funny!


Friends, I don't know if you get as excited as I do about old books, but it's even more of an adventure when my eccentric great uncle--the King of Bookworms--arrives and begins to help me pick and choose which books to put in my bag. It was only slightly embarrassing when he announces to the few patrons there that a published author is in their midst and wildly points to me.


I've unpacked the bags and tried to find places for all the books. I know that my home is crazy and packed and embodies all kinds of passions and art. Maybe it would be best if I didn't collect anymore books? Maybe I will end up like Sabrina Fairchild's father in Sabrina? Books will become furniture. Books will become the floors and walls. Books will decorate every nook and every cranny...


But I will collect them anyway.

~Gia
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First Impressions :: Arrowsmith

Today, I have been busy trying to get everything ready and prepared for house guests. Because of the flurry of activity, I don't know what to blog about. This daily blogging challenge is tough!

Anyway, I sat down for a moment to drink some cold water and looked around, trying to think of what to write. My eyes fell on my collection of ancient books--the kind that smell like time and mystery with crisp, frail pages. So I picked one up and turned to the first page. As a writer, I've attended several writing workshops and most of them drive into your memory the importance of the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first page.

So here is the introduction of a musty old book beside me:



The driver of the wagon swaying through forest and swamp of the Ohio wilderness was a ragged girl of fourteen. Her mother they had buried near the Monongahela--the girl herself had heaped with torn sods the grace beside the river of the beautiful name. Her father lay shrinking with fever on the floor of the wagon-box, and about him played her brothers and sisters, dirty brats, tattered brats, hilarious brats. 

She halted at the fork in the grassy road, and the sick man quavered, "Emmy, ye better turn down towards Cincinnati. If we could find your Uncle Ed, I guess he'd take us in."

"Nobody ain't going to take us in," she said. "We're going on jus' long as we can. Going West! They's a whole lot of new things I aim to be seeing!"

She cooked the supper, she put the children to bed, and say by the fire, alone. 

That was the great-grandmother of Martin Arrowsmith.

~Arrowsmith, Sinclair Lewis


Well, I don't know what I think about that but I suppose I might read a little bit more and see if it holds my interest. I am a harsh judge of books. 

I also discovered the book was adapted into a Hollywood film.


Perhaps tomorrow I will write a little about Sinclair Lewis--who was a pretty rad dude...

~Gia
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The Problem with "Speaking Truth In Love"



For years now, I have had Christians--pastors and leaders and deep theologians--give me the business about my advocacy for the homosexual and Muslim community. They repeatedly tell me that we must love them yes, but truly loving them is "speaking truth in love" so that they might not burn in hell for all eternally.

There's a few things wrong with this:


You Didn't Have Love To Begin With 
Speaking truth in love is a phrase some people use to barely mask the heart of the issue--bigotry, racism and homophobia. Why am I making such a harsh accusation? Because their Facebook posts in which I try to remind them to love those that are unlike them were empty of love to begin with. With that said, I hate getting that line thrown in my face. It's accusatory. It's blaming me for the loss of their eternal souls to torment. It's belittling and speaks of my lack of true knowledge of God's love and scripture...

But it is a lie.

I saw your angry Facebook status. I saw you speak harshly of homosexuals. I saw you mock Muslims and post about how we must be on our guard because their one desire is to kill us. I saw you poke fun of Allah. I noticed you're poorly disguised words about homosexuals...intolerance...political correctness...with disdain dripping from every typed letter. I am sure they saw it too. I am sure they wrote you off. You lost them. YOU. Not me.


Would this be similar to how Pharisees behaved? They had all the knowledge and "truth" after all.

Hell Is A Bad Motivator:
Using "hell" as your motivator falls short of Good News and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Using hell as your motivator is manipulative and uses fear as power. Using hell as your motivator keeps people from TRULY discovering the love of God that is unconditional and full of beauty. You are creating masses of sheep that will follow you because they are afraid, but they never end up discovering, or waking up, to the astounding depth of love their Father has for them.


I Am Doing It Just Fine:
So, friends, I am not part of the problem. I am not doing this wrong. Don't toss that line at me again to tear me down and rake me over the coals. This is not a good reason to kick people out of your circles and silence them. Take a really good look at this idea and be honest? Have you saved the souls of any homosexuals or Muslims this way? Or have you deepend the division between you and them? Are you actually letting your feelings and thoughts about who and what they are poison the potential love you could offer them? When is the last time you even forged friendships with these folks? You have to do more than post on FB. You have to...

I am so very tired of these games and school yard bullying...

Or would that be church yard bullying?

I don't know. But I'm tired of it.

~Gia
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Boo Hoo


So how are we?

Has this been only one week of the 90 day blog challenge? Seems about right...

And I have nothing to talk about today. No encouraging words. Not even any angry words. I am tired. I am worn out. I am overwhelmed. I'm nervous about my daughter's healthcare and the ability to pay for all the coverage and tests and medications she needs...

And I am making a dream catcher for a client that ordered one out of nowhere. No big deal, because I certainly need the order if I'm going to make any money to help make ends meet. But I really don't feel like wrapping hemp around this dang hoop...

And CATS!

CATS, MAN!!

I have these two wonderful cats that we got for Lucy when she was starting to struggle and we didn't know what was going on. We thought they would help keep her calm and relaxed. For the most part, they did--or would--but her episodes just got worse and she spiraled more.

What's this have to do with the cats? Why are they on my mind today, of all days?

Well, these cats are super hero cats in which the only super power they have is the ability to poop and cause such a foul smell that it engulfs the ENTIRE house. And it doesn't smell like cat poop. It smells like human poop...and death.

:(

And then there's something that died inside the refrigerator. I don't know what it is. I don't want to have to go in looking for it, but I cannot stand the smell any longer.

So what a day.

What a week.

What a smelly home.

Ugh.

Pity party, party of one.

That's me.

~Gia
1

Our Journey With Epilepsy


My scariest experience as a parent was worrying that something was happening to my baby girl that just didn’t make sense. Just before her 9th birthday, her personality started to change and her behavior hit rock bottom. I felt like something terrible was happening to her. I would lay awake in bed and google how to know if my daughter had a mental illness—was I losing her? Her behavior wasn’t just “bad”, but violent and dangerous. I was afraid the police would show up at the front door and haul me off, thinking it was me causing the terrifying sounds of temper to shake our home…

I cried to much…

And I didn’t talk about it because I thought people would judge her. They could judge me all they wanted. They could tell me I was failing as a mother, but I didn’t want them to think anything bad about my daughter. She was/is my baby and this wasn’t like her. This wasn’t normal.

It was terrifying.

It was lonely.

But then, months later, she lost consciousness and wet herself. It took me a few moments for her to come awake and I was horrified.

Turns out my little girl has a seizure disorder—some form of epilepsy that we hadn't been aware of.

Suddenly, I learned that her personality shift and her behavior had to do with her epilepsy. She was never truly falling into a deep and restful sleep. I don’t even know how long it has been since she actually slept. She had been having seizure activity all through the night for months on end—always waking up, bed wetting, fear and confusion, sore muscles and worn out body. During the day she suffered focal and absent seizures that we missed.

How she ever managed to pass the third grade with all A’s is beyond me. How she ever managed to do so well at IStep and IRead blows my mind. How she was ever able to maintain such composure for months now, knowing that something was out of her control and doing her best to handle it, is beyond me.

It’s probably been a year since Lucy first looked at me with tears in her eyes, and said, “There’s something wrong with my brain, mommy. It’s doesn’t do what I want it to—it goes too fast and does whatever it wants.” Hearing her say that nearly made me come all done. I thought it was hopeless—that she just had some mental disorder—an illness that would be dark and scary and overwhelming.



But that wasn't it.

Today she sat down beside me and I looked at her and she smiled. “You’re gonna start medication,” I said. “It might not feel good for a while and it might be scary, but mommy and daddy are going to help you and take care of you. We will keep you safe. How does that make you feel?”

She shrugged. “I’m okay. Whatever helps me get better, I will do it.”

My word.

This girl.

She is amazing. She is beautiful. She is full of light and unconditional love. She is passionate and creative and wicked smart…

And she’s going to be okay.

She’s going to be okay.

~Gia
1

Ten Things Teddy and Lucy Want You To Know:


NOTE: My children have been preoccupied with racial tensions in America. Roger and I have begun to explain racism to them and how it works so they can better understand current events. This is why Teddy answers almost all his questions circled around African Americans. Just so you know. 

What Do You Want The World To Know?

1. Stop killing black people. (T)

2. Puss and Boots is a funny cartoon and you should watch it. (T)

3. It's better to watch Puss and Boots than kill black people. (T)

4. Not just white people are good. Black people are good too.  (T)

5. Killing is not what God and Jesus wants us to do...and...wait, which one died for us, mommy? Jesus or God? WHICH ONE DIED ON THE CROSS FOR US?! Oh, and Jesus died on the cross for us. (T)

6. You should be nice because that's what God wants. (L)

7. We should take care of the world by treating the plants nicely. (L)

8. LOVE!!! (L)

9. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated. Most people want to be treated nicely. (L)

10. Try to be funny because it makes other people happy. (L)


I asked London (my 2 year old) what she wanted the world to know. She grinned ear-to-ear and scrunched her body over in excitement and squealed, "I NURSE!!!!"

London was weaned after her second birthday, but to this day, breasts are still her most favorite thing in the world. Whenever she is sad or hurting or tired, she places her hand against me, lays her head on my chest, and she's safe and calm. I think that's biblical. God longs to draw us up into His bosom.

I mean...

I gotta make London's response deep, right?

But it's okay to laugh about it too. We all do in the Cooper home.

~Gia

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Pokemon Is Making Us Matter


 So there's this new phenomena where everyone is hitting the streets and using their phones to hunt and catch Pokemon. I heard about it first when my brother was walking around outside my house, sweating in the summer heat and staring at his phone. I thought perhaps he was just trying to get his steps in, but he tells me, "I gotta go by the post office. There's a Pokemon over there I'm trying to catch."

"What???"

And that's how it started. That was less than a week ago. Now my news feed is blowing up with people talking about poke stops and hatching things. A friend posted a video of downtown Indy where groups of people were walking along the canal talking together, laughing together--strangers interacting!--and catching Pokemon.

How beautiful is that?

Right now our nation feels like it is suffering some major growing pangs. Everyone is fighting and marching and protesting and killing...

But there's Pokemon.

Pokemon matters right now because it makes us all matter. It causes us to interact with all different people, all genders, all races, gay and straight. No one cares. They just want to know where to find the next little monster and level up. People are helping one another with excitement. "There's one behind the bar!" or, "There's one behind that blue truck, yo!"

And it is absolutely beautiful.


I hadn't downloaded it on my phone. Truth be told, I don't get out of the house enough to make it worth it. I also didn't want to walk around in the heat and humidity. But today, while Lucy was getting set up for her 24 hour EEG at the hospital, we were curious if there would be any in her room. So...

I downloaded the blasted app.

FOUR!

THERE WERE FOUR IN THE ROOM!

Lucy giggled and I tried like the dickens to figure out how to throw the ball at it and catch the dang thing. We were both laughing by the time I caught it. I don't even know how to pronounce it's name.

After a while, Lucy gets tired and I can't help but wonder how many are in the halls and down by the cafeteria...

And I suddenly realize that I desperately need coffee and the nurse tells me there's a good coffee shop on the far side of the building...

!!!!!!!

And I fell into a Pokemon hole.

But I also found coffee.

On the way back up to the room, a black family gets in the elevator with me. The first thing I feel like doing is giving them each a hug because my heart has been heavy for their community and I've been shouting from the FB roof that #blacklivesmatter! But that would really weird them out. So I just stand there holding my coffee and two red velvet cookies as big as my face. As they step off the elevator, I notice once of the young ladies has the Pokemon app open on her phone. I smile ear-to-ear and shout after her, "Have fun catching 'em!!"

She laughs.

The elevator closes on me.

And I'm back in Lucy's room, excited to tell her about all the Pokemon that are all over Riley Hospital. 


 ~Gia
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