just a monday like today

It was four weeks ago, but I can still feel unsettlement down in my tummy thinking about that drive.

It was any Monday, almost. A Monday of a new week, a hard day, a beginning day, a day on which to go love people and praise Jesus and try a little more to understand and pass on that marvelous love He keeps giving.

Also a motion-sickness Monday.

We were in India, eleven of us. Kolkata. We took Monday to go out to the village. The week prior we went to children’s’ centers and learned and loved and selfied with them littles (they love seeing their faces all caught up in a screen). This week we’d go see women and jobs and watch them reclaim dignity and claim Christ for the first time. So we bounced along past the underpasses and Victoria Memorial and some cows and a soccer game and fields of Jute. We ended out there in a green place with rocky paths and busted cement and sweet women, all learning to sew.

These women had stories like none I’ve had before. They had stories of terror and running away. Stories of pain and learning that maybe loved ones aren’t loved ones like they first thought. But they were sewing new stories. They were stitching stories of crimson and beauty and letters and chances and grace. They were stitching diligence and joy and education and stitching together their lives, because many weak threads make a stronger rope.

They sat down and we sat down and we admired those stitches, because those stitches represented standing up and healing and drying the tears, and sometimes letting the tears flow. Those stitches represented courage and walking tall and holding hands.

One story there was still unstitched into any fabric. This story was too recent. No soft healing pattern had set in gently, like a thread hugging its linen plane. She smiled softly at us and folded her hands and listened uncomprehending as English words took her story and put it where we could feel it and understand it; put it in our tears.

Tears she could understand, and hugs. We took her precious story and wrapped it in all the love we had to share. I promised her I’d bring it back with me. I promised her the pain and the wrong would be remembered and lifted up in another country a sea away, and she could feel known. I promised her that if she could only feel my arms around her for a few minutes, she could feel my thoughts around her much longer. I cupped her little face as long as I could, but I still keep that little throbbing heart cupped so gently in mine.

I still cry thinking of that sweet one.

Dear little sister, I miss you and I want to hug you again. I want to tell you about love so marvelous and pure it cannot help but heal. I pray for you, and I keep working for you. I work for all the girls like you here; the ones who don’t know how much better it can be, and the ones who smile sadly if they smile at all, and the ones with hearts so busted and piecey they don’t think there’s fixing for them.

Take those stitches, and let them help you. See how much beauty your untrained fingers can thread out, and think of the ties a heart can thread out. Think of that love stitching your pieces as your fingers stitch that crimson on that linen, and know it works. You pull fabric together and He can pull your heart soft and melty into one piece again. Tie that thread up tight and firm, and feel him wrapping and wrapping your heart in a love that can’t be untied.

Let’s hug again, sweet pea, up there when we can be all whole and lovely like He made us.

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One project: done

Or almost done anyway.

Actually, it was a hard project. Last summer, after the 5k that I and some college buddies hosted, I wrote each of them a thank you card for all they did. B’lieve me – they did lots. I had left over cards. Nice ones. That, and I’d heard of Hannah Brencher‘s project More Love Letters. That, and some other blogger I think wrote about doing thank you notes as a project. All together, it seemed like a good way to use up those nice looking thank you notes.

So I made a list.

Mom. My boss. My little sister-by-love and my older one. My friend. Another friend. Another lady.

Just people who I love. Just a chance to tell them so.wpid-wp-1412207743754.jpegThanks, everyone.

Thanks for the little things, and the big things. Thanks for the things you taught me, the times we were silly, and for loving me. Thanks for goofing off and playing with my hair and moving to California. Thanks for introducing me to Dr. Who and giving me haircuts and helping me plan a 5k.

wpid-wp-1412208016526.jpeg wpid-wp-1412207450576.jpegThanks for reminding me to delegate, and thanks for being my silly encouragement on hard days, and thanks for interrupting my school to show me Lego projects, and for being nonchalant about skydiving and staying up late because you wanted to talk to me. Thanks for being weird. Awesome. Annoying. Sweet. All those things.

I got a card like this myself once. It said “Thanks – not only for the big things, but also for the 32 million little things. You didn’t know I kept track, did you?”

So to you readers and commenters and people who I love – thanks. Thanks for the big things, but also for the 32 million little things. You didn’t know I kept track, did you?

So yeaaaaah it’s September

September! It thrills me from toes to tipppy top – gots the power to stand my pixie up, it does. It’s like the sky opens up just to make space for my wandering soul and things change colors to satisfy the craving I have for differentwpid-wp-1411535687956.jpegIt’s September’s wanderlust makes me want to make eat the apples just layin’ on the sidewalk, take photos of the swimming trees, and make acorn necklaces (ok, perhaps that was really truly Anni’s idea).

wpid-wp-1411606284811.jpegSpeaking of the girl, she came for a wee small visit last week. Really truly she deserves her own post, but (insert some lame excuse) so you see, I couldn’t. Or maybe I just selfishly want to keep my pictures of and with her in a secret, pretty place.

We grew up on playing lava-tag, and climbin’ up fire-poles, stepping across the bridge with pinched feet, and climbing up the slide. Why wouldn’t we do it again?wpid-img_20140917_165421978.jpgI didn’t realize how much this post will be full of people I love. Yay! So meet my brother.

Blog, meet Josh. Josh, blog. Also Josh, meet Cherry Berry. I may be somewhat sold on fro yo. It may be what I treat myself to whenever I pass a test (hint – I passed a test.) Lucky I, it was proctored on the campus where Josh attends. So I made him got him to like fro yo. He be like “I don’t like frozen yogurt. Well, I’ll try it. Oh, chocolate! Oh, Strawberry! Oh, it comes out SOOOO slow. Oh, sprinkles! Oh, M&M’s! Oh, brownie bites! Oh, skittles! Oh, chocolate chips!” I be like “I told you so.” But yeah, celebrating with a yummy something and a loved somebody is just a happy thing. Try it sometime.

wpid-wp-1411605236424.jpegI was in a city the other day, so I did a thing. I walked on a dike, and listened to a band playing Brown Eyed Girl and Sweet Home Alabama, and did some selfying with my shadow, chatted with my sister, … yeah. It was a cool day.

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I am here. Gosh that’s good to know! The things they didn’t tell us, starting out!wpid-wp-1411574287692.jpegI don’t know why I love this so much! Maybe it’s because the “When” is washed off – by rain (presumably.) Maybe it’s because it’s simple. Maybe because it’s so familiar, but it means something different when it’s all by itself. Maybe because it was just in the kind I don’t of park that needed sweet graffiti, and … well I read after a rain.wpid-wp-1411574495550.jpeg

I don’t like football. This lucky child still convinced me to come to her powder puff game. Gosh I love her. I feel old, thinking that the last pp game I came to was when I was a senior, and she wasn’t in high school even, then. She’s amazing anyway, though. wpid-wp-1411535300776.jpeg wpid-wp-1411535545272.jpeg

Dad, do you miss farming?

Sometimes.

Why?

I miss being able to look back at a day, and being able to see what I did.

Yeah, there’s a swath here, and another, and a field changes color once when it grows, and once when it ripens, and again after harvest and after being plowed. A whole piece of land rotates around and moves from one side of “to-do” to the other. All the time the sky watches and your fingers get wide and calloused and strong and your soul shapes to the clouds and something of the land grows and ripens and becomes something of you.

I think this and do not say it. I look at those calloused hands holding a steering wheel out of the corner of my sight and I think of me – we have the same need for sunshine and outside and breeze in the short-cut hair. We have the same need for putting something wild and chaotic into rows. We have the same desire to look back and see a field, and another, razed and bountiful and golden and done.

wpid-wp-1411606879769.jpegAnd how is September to you, so far?

 

Gratefulness

Perhaps it’s an awkward title, but I like it. There’s the because. I sat and listened and lost focus and tried to pay attention in a Bible study, one night. We read Isaiah 53. Mark chatted about it as usual, and then introduced the awkward silence by asking us what our reactions were.

“Gratefulness, I guess,” Caleb said meditatively.

Gratefulness – what an awkward word! my brain spat out. (I didn’t actually say it.) Why not say gratitude?

Yeah I slapped myself for that. Caleb’s a friend, and Christ is my savior, and I wanted to hear a different word? Oh Gianna. I repented then and haven’t stopped. So now I say gratefulness, and count grace, and smile because Caleb knew what was important more than I – Jesus and his mercy.

Thanks for that lesson, dude.

And that’s basically this post. Gratefulness. Happy little things. Learning to count God’s gracious gifts and number them – impossible as it is – in photos and words and happy moments.

So anyway. Here’s my grateful list of today.

wpid-wp-1410181118263.jpegI am grateful for blog ideas. Don’t read too much here. Spoilers, wot! But mostly I took a picture of what I’ve already posted.

wpid-img_20140908_082320.jpgI’m to be a legend folks. That’s just exciting, wot. Time to go #liveacrazydream (more on that when it actually happens. 🙂

wpid-wp-1410182255902.jpegSo maybe, when I take a hand off the steering, I get swerve-y and off and it’s weird, and maybe I almost went in the ditch. But maybe not, if you’re of the gracious ones. But the biking was a fun time, anyway.

wpid-wp-1410182069077.jpegAnd sunsets are always a good time. Especially if you’re biking. And picturing. And smiling. And it’s autumn. Win-win-win-win-win (and yeah, I just actually counted all that.)

wpid-wp-1410181844749.jpegYeah so it’s cocoa weather, and pleasepleaseplease don’t try to tell me it’s still 70 during the day, because it’s cocoa’n’coffe’n’hoodie weather, which is my favorite. Have your seventies, sweeties. I’ll drink my cocoa.

wpid-wp-1409284661537.jpegThese people are awesome. Like on the right, there’s KK. She’s my awesome sister, as somebody boldly pointed out the other day. But yeah, I’m already aware. I mean – she’s the one taking herself a selfie, here, with a phone she didn’t have permission to use. (Darn you, girl.)

Then on the left, there’s a bestie (so maybe my bestie and I both blog) and I really didn’t know it was possible for anybody besides God to know me so well. Gosh, girl. How does you does it?

wpid-wp-1410181687881.jpegSpeaking of that girl, she gave me this book, which has been designated the thankfulness journal. Lookit all the writing there. God is good, isn’t he?

wpid-wp-1410181542058.jpegOh um. There’s dirt under my nails. I play ultimate and do crazy outside stuff. So it happens. I’ll be grateful for that too. *awkward grin*

Note coffee on that list.

Yeah. I really like my coffee.

Tell me something you’re grateful for. I’d love to hear.

Yeah, There’s an App for That

No.

I want to puke. I wish I could hurl the ugly and abusive practices and realities out of myself and out of this place and run far away. I’d never come back. I’d never let anyone come back. We’d never look at this agin except to recover from it.

I’m speaking of sexual trafficking and prostitution. Learning about this breaks me and you wide open and hurt, but for the sake of those dear ones broken wide open so terribly and often, let us learn a little, please.

Allow me to splat facts at you.

There are 27 million estimated trafficked people in the world.Roughly 80% are women. Roughly 80% of trafficking is sexually related.

There are twenty-one million women being sold for their bodies.

I knew about this. I remember hearing that word – prostitute – as a child when my parents read us some of the Bible stories and interrupting hastily “what is that?” “When you’re older, sweetheart.” Sweetheart. Thankfully, I trusted that God-forsaken knowledge to my parents for many years. Sweetheart.

I don’t want to think of the false endearments these girls hear every night.

Then I learned what it meant. I learned it happened in the past. Somewhere, I learned that it wasn’t just a thing of the past. In my innocent, darling-ed and sweetheart-ed and childlike life, I didn’t connect it to now. I didn’t connect it to here. I didn’t connect it to places I have been, places I have lived, or people I could have been.

I did, though. Last year. I wandered a bit on that world wide web and tangled myself in something crying for justice. I blinked and recoiled and wondered and grew a little angry.

No. Not in this place. Not in this time. Not to these people – to any people. No.

But yes. Yes in truck stops when she stretches her legs. Yes in cafes where her customer service plays to his stalking. Yes in broken homes where Mom’s boyfriend never should. Yes in destroyed families where the paternal one isn’t called Daddy. Yes in times when she just felt lonely and he just pretended to love. Yes when she trusts someone new and he breaks somebody new. Yes when that’s what Mom did, and it seemed like a living. Yes when brothels are legal some places.

Somebody cry with me! I don’t want to write anymore.

That is not all. Achingly not all. See India?

Yes when Mama and Papa groom her for this. Yes when one whose pockets jingle “needs” her. Yes when her sister or mama needs money. Yes when she is promised a job and receives a beating.

Let me show you something.

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I love these beautiful little honeys, these sisters of mine. It’s a lovely thing knowing they’re alive and gorgeous and happy, and just loving them and them loving me – we’re glad together.

And yeah, I have dark nights and weepy days and tests I don’t pass and a temper I don’t want to tell you about, and I struggle to comfort them and we all cry together or take selfies for instagram when we should be laughing (and eating our unfrozen yogurt).

But. We have a beautiful life. We have not been owned, but nourished. We have not been sold, but sold ourselves out to God. We have not been cheaply priced by pricelessly loved.

I cherish our freedom.

Enough?

The pain and anger you read (recoiled from?) at the beginning of this post come from a deep angst over a new app – an app to connect johns with pimps and prostitutes. With the simplicity of tapping a button, they can put in their preferences. Not only can people search for this stuff and find it, but it has been organized and searched out for them. I am horrified. Please take the time to read this article by Eric Metaxas.

Be shocked and angered with me.

I can’t say more now. I will, because I can, and I care. But now now. Please come back and see it. I’m going to India, and I’ve hosted 5k runs, and I love the sweet abused hearts of those girls, and I have stories and hurts and victories to share, and I want you to be educated about this.

We can help, folks. Please begin by praying for these girls.

Grace always,

-GG

August Afternoon

All summer’s been scholastically oriented for me. Why don’t you take the summer off? they say. I want to graduate! I reply.

This afternoon was a happy sigh – just a lovely fit for an August day. 8.16.2014 August Afternoon

 

This sweet little fellow would have been content to lay there forever if only I would keep scratching his tummy. 8.16.14 August

 

 

The pup whose wee, chipper tail you see was curled up in Leah’s shadow a moment earlier, and she wanted a selfie with him. Lil’ Squirmy ain’t got time for that, I suppose.

8.16.2014 AA

 

Mmmm. Smelling the grass. Feeling the soft warm of a puppy by your side. Hearing the laughter of sweet Leah.  This is summer.

I must explain a bit about Leah. Henceforth – she will be called my sister because we have mutually decided that I am her big sister and she is my little Leah. It’s a fabulous arrangement.

Leah, Blog. Blog, Leah. And puppies.

8.16.14

 

Grace always,

-GG