Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Messed up in the Head. In the Best Way...

Speaking of the post title, did you know Hans was going to be such a turncoat?!! I'm usually all over those types of switcheroos in movies, but I guess I just blindly turned off my brain and kicked it in to: Disney Mode when I saw Frozen....

Hey guys! This is me, post-Europe! 

Don't worry, I'm not going to start saying Ciao and driving a Vespa on I-10 (although I have ALWAYS wanted to own Vespa). I did frequently say "ciao" to my Romanian friends though seeing as how that was their word for hi and bye, kinda like "aloha." 

It was weird and I'm all kinds of extra crazy now seeing what I've seen. 

In the same week I went from using Google Translate English to Chinese (simplified) to English to Hungarian then to English to Romanian. 

I time traveled overseas which is just about the most surreal deal ever. 

I saw that movie Transcendence on the plane and it was the most awfulest. I wanted to jump out and swim home it was that bad. Johnny Depp. For shame!!!!!!! I saw The Queen. Dang. That Helen Mirren. What can't she do!?!?!?!

Oh, by the way, thank you to all that helped fund and prayed for my mission trip to Romania! God showed out in a big way as my trip was funded in the first five minutes from when I posted the need on FB -when I got the text from a family friend through church saying his company (if you are in Houston- Total Package Turnkey remodeling/renovation does great work- have used their services!!) would pay for whatever I didn't raise and sponsor me! This family has inspired me as being on fire for the Lord in wherever or through whatever He sends their way. I pray I can be as good of a steward with the provisions God gives me as they have. So that was all God!! 

If you were following- not that I have anyone following what I do except concerned family members- my facebook posts the day I left I was delayed and got to spend the night in Miami- AI PAPI! 

I looked everywhere for Gloria and her MSM entourage, but alas, it was me and 300 British people trying to get back across the pond to their home. I did what anyone would do: Sociology experiments, aka people-watch. 

Talks with a Pretend Michael Caine. 
After not talking to a human being for 9 hours and befriending a "Smarte Carte" who became my "Wilson" (think Castaway) I got up the courage to chat up a Brit who looked like Sir Michael Caine on the bus ride to our overnight (paid for- holler!!) stay at the Best Western Plus (it was REALLY nice to be honest- I would vouch for that with where I've stayed, but I don't want to sound pretentious-- it rhymes with "Raylord Talms" and "Pairmont...."). 

We really hit it off me and the pretend Michael Caine. I could have talked with him for hours. He reminded me of a British version of my dad. For real. I learned he was retired. He had gone on "holiday" to Miami, his first time to the states. 

I began our convo by trying to figure out why there were so many Brits coming from Miami by hilariously imploring, "So. Why are all you British folk here? Is it another invasion?" He laughed and assured me, "Heavens no! I'm trying to leave!" 

We talked about so many things on the way to that Best Western. 
What the deal was with all the Italians (my people! there were like 10 of them I think) and the man-bags?
Doctor Who. Is it really that big of a deal in Britain? What was a police box? 
How he was asked to dance by a Tranny in Miami and declined. 
The amazing patience of the British (MANY hours delayed, not one visible fit I saw!). I told him that Americans would be cussing and eating each other if that had been us. I saw this one couple just look at each other and shrug when they announced we'd be staying overnight. SHRUGGED. As in one shrug and done. 
British people. I want to know more about you. Pretend Michael Caine, you are the best. Maybe you're even better than Real Michael Caine. I do hope you find a beautiful lady gardener chum someday because you can't keep all that charm to yourself. No!

Why I'm Even More Messed up in the Head Now...
I've been hoarding all that I've seen in my brain. It's just done a number on me. 

I'm going to try to break it down, but the main point of everything was said by one of the amazing people in the group I went with (I really mean amazing- not like the word they throw out on the Bachelor meat market show!), he or she said this, 

"So many people go to change the world on a mission trip. But what changes is you." I might have paraphrased or screwed that up.

 But yes, I'm changed. I pray it lasts. 

Seeing more of the world makes me realize how much less I can do with what I think is my world. 

Meeting new people who can see miracles happen around them because they are so undistracted and unrushed. 

Seeing children, beautiful children, that have been pushed away by society because of their race, the Roma people (we know them as Gypsies here in America)- seeing them and their joy. 

Watching the kids confess sins in front of all their friends. I'm talking real deal sins (Not that one is above or bigger than the other) but stuff our kids are not confronted with. And then, become sisters and brothers with me in Christ. Powerful. 

Watching broken men and women, made not only whole in Christ, but redeemed and restored and and wholly refurbished, cleansed to spread their new found faith and restoration with their people. 

We heard a sermon on the prodigal son and then watched a prodigal daughter return from her travels as a prostitute and accept Jesus and come into His glory as a new creation. 

I saw 100 kids wait patiently, barefoot and with sores all over them, for a donated pair of shoes from one of the churches I went with. Then I saw them walk out with their pair with huge, grateful smiles on their beautiful faces. 

See what I mean? 
I'm messed up now. Even more than I already was. 
And I've felt weird about going there as almost a voyeur of sorts to watch these beautiful people. I prayed that I would tell their story the way Jesus told their story to me. 

Humbled is the word. Just what I've been praying for. 

More to come. 

Thank you MANNA Worldwide for providing opportunities to get messed up in the head for people like me. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Why Romania?

What in the world?!!!

Today was so awesome. I got to see people be brave and donate to this cause- basically I got to see God move- how cool is that??

So I'm sure some of you are like, "Say whaaaa?" How random is this chick wanting to jetset to Romania!? Doesn't she have like a baby and kid and stuff?? What up with that!?

Let me explain a little more.

 I've been praying like I said in the previous post for God to point me in the direction of a mission trip. And it became clear to me through prayer that I should keep my focus on what is already a focus: ministering to young girls to let them know their true worth in Jesus and their God given loveliness. Check.

I've been looking at mission trips provided through my church and nothing hit home to me.

That's when God planted "Manna Worldwide" in my brain. I've always heard my "Bonus Dad" talk about the orphanages he's helped build in the Ukraine and Romania with this organization. And so I searched through their current offerings and this trip came up!

I saw these girls and immediately grabbed my phone!

Aren't they just so lovely!? YES!

The trip will take me to a "Gypsy" girls home in Romania as well as to a Bible Club for children there where lots of families with lots of kids like 150- will come to hear the Word and play.

I'm going solo from Houston to London and then will meet up with a church from Virginia along with the trip director from Manna Worldwide and one other person from Pennsylvania. I'm hoping she will be a she so I can befriend her. BEFRRRRIIIIIIEEEEENNNNDDDD HER. That was weird. Watch her hate cheese or sci fi or cakes (that has happened to me- it never went anywhere from there and it was a guy...) and then I'd have to reassess. Do you like how I've already pre-dumped my only future friend over a fake falling out over food differences!?

So I shared with the trip director my heart for girls-- specifically my mission from God- Blues Brothers reference- to let every girl know she is LOVELY because she is His through verses and lessons that are girl relevant in the Bible. And basically it will be me just pouring out Jesus love on these girls.

God has told me He would provide! He is going to have to provide even more than all the funds- but also confidence and courage!

I've never been on a mission trip.
Never been to Europe.
Had to look up exactly where Romania is on our Ol' School Globe (It says USSR y'all!).
Don't have a passport- applying tomorrow after I retake my pic (apparently tank tops are controversial!-- thank you friend who told me this!!).
My 7 yr old is none too pleased, but is coming around to the idea...
And I hate to raise funds or solicit money. I had a pampered chef party once and sweated like a popsicle in August in the Katy Mills Mall parking lot.

And I just gotta say thank you to everyone who doesn't think I'm crazy like a fox. I am and y'all are sweet. But seriously, thank you for your prayers- the best gift. Thank you for the encouraging words. And thank you for your donations!!! I'm giving away my coveted photography tips to anyone who donates $50!!!!

Here's my fundraising web page... Did I mention I only have 4ish days left to raise the rest!

So that's the news! Thank you for being a part of this journey with me!!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I've Lost It. Please Join Me!

If God wants me to go and spread His Good News to precious, lovely girls in Romania then I have less than 6 days to raise all the funds. I've lost my mind completely. Will you please help this become possible? I know it's nuts!!!! To be honest, I'm scared!

But I've been praying for a way to spread God's message to girls that they are LOVELY because they are His and then I saw this trip to visit a Girls Home in Romania as well as help lead Bible Clubs to the Gypsies there and now I'm asking for Big things from our Big God.

If you would like to pray and support- I'm so grateful in advance! Thank you!!!

Get Gillian to Romania

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

That Thursday: Hoping in Grief.

Tomorrow will be six years since I've seen my dad on earth.


With this blog, I try but I know I fail ("We all stumble...") to purpose my posts for "building others up" a la 1 Thess. 5:11.

 You know what's interesting? I get a lot of hits on a post I wrote several years ago: Teaching Kids about Heaven.

It's not me that is doing the teaching, it's the Bible. And honestly we Christians are being bullied on this certainty. There is major fear concerning this topic, naturally, the topic of death, passing on, etc. And I completely understand it.

But I also understand that in that fear and bullying, the ultimate bully, the devil wins. And I do not mean that in a facetious tone. I fully believe that the devil is real. Funny that as I was typing this sentence I got this weird message on Blogger: "An error occurred while trying to save or publish your post. Please try again." Oh, I will keep trying.

Because you need to know, without doubt, and your kids need to know that "death has lost its sting."
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[a]

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”[b]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
1 Cor. 15:54-56
  
As Christians, we have victory through Jesus Christ over death. 

 Yesterday while we were driving Leelah began to divulge her confusion regarding Tornadoes. Leelah has bouts of anxiety about certain issues: flu shots (she's already worried for a 3 sec. shot in Sept.), random things, and tornadoes.  We all have things we have to work on for our missions here on Earth, this is just one of hers and it's been one of mine as well. 

She asked why God would allow horrible things like Tornadoes to happen. She just couldn't wrap her head around it. 

A dear friend gave me a wonderful, wonderful devotional about 2 weeks after my father graduated to Heaven. The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie.

Up until this moment, I was in my late 20's I had not watched very many sad movies and I had only been to one funeral. It was natural for me to omit deeply sad events in my life. To me, I was protecting myself, but ultimately I was stunting my growth in learning to process grief. Process. Not get over. You do not get over grief. 

Anyone that tells you that is not a friend who has experienced or grown through trials of grief. Their intentions may be the kindest. And that is another thing, for those grieving, get ready to be a Grace giver. People will not understand your pain, how can they? They will forget. They will ask too much or too little and you will have to cut them some slack. You might want to prayerfully ask for help with that. I sure had to.

In the book there is a particular devotional (that's just a verse or thought usually written in a devotional book designed to get your mind focused on God and it gives you a little nugget of knowledge) that talks about why bad things happen to good people. This resource was huge for me in my grief.

So I quickly prayed for God to help me explain to this little one, to build her up, to encourage her that God knows what He is doing even when it seems so horrendous. "ALL things work together for good for those who are called according to His purposes." Romans 8:28

We talked about Gigi (my dad) and how he had not known Jesus personally for 60 years. God used the storm of cancer to bring him home to Him. I told her that Gigi could see Jesus when he had cancer in people bringing us meals, people paging his prayer pager, us praying continually for him, people loving on him, random money from kind people (God) showing up, etc. He was surrounded by Jesus. I told her it was the sweetest times even though it was the hardest. Just like the disciples. Joseph. And so many more. 
I think she got it. She told me she did. I can't worry about it. I will just have faith that God will work it out in her heart with the Holy Spirit. 

My mom, dad and I were sitting in Murphy's Deli inside Methodist about 5 days before my dad graduated. We were trying to grab lunch, but none of us could eat. We didn't know at the time that the cancer had returned, it should have been obvious as my dad weighed 88 lbs at that point. 4 months prior he had the cancer on his bone in his hip and had a hip replacement. I don't know why God kept us from knowing it had come back with a vengeance that week. The devil has tried many, many times to beat me up about this. God won't let my heart succumb to this spiritual battle. 

This was the last time we would eat together as a family. 

And my dad looked at us and I now know he was aware of what was happening. I was not. I just wasn't and I don't know why. Forever optimistic I guess. 

We were waiting on a room for him in the hospital because he had a nasty bout of bronchitis he couldn't shake. He looks at us, and asks if he was going to be okay. I assured him he was going to be fine. How tough he was. He started to worry more aloud. He never did that. Finally, I reminded him that he knew Jesus, "Right dad? Remember?" 

"Yeah I know." He said. This is his testimony if you have time. He accepted Jesus one month prior to his passing with the help of my mom and I'm sure, hundreds of friends praying. You are never too late to know Him. 

He had said his last words several days prior/ They were very strained and so precious, "I love you Gilliebob." I used to bob my head while learning to walk as a baby. 

I was at home when my mom called. I was really sick with a stomach bug and had been sleeping at the hospital and was told I needed to go home and rest. I hate that I wasn't there.

 I cried all the tears in my body. John got me off the ground and we called my best friend, Lesly to come and watch our princess. 

I could only cry and say to her, "It's okay." And she with the words she always has said, "No, it's not." It was exactly what I needed to hear. 
  
I have no words about what I saw at the hospital. It was surreal and I just know he was gone even though he was right there. He was with Jesus I just had to keep saying. 

The kind chaplain came and held our hands and told us about perhaps starting a new tradition, like planting a tree. We took that to heart and planted a rose bush in honor of him on the one year mark. 

Because I'm a Christian, hope defines my life. And that's why I will end by telling you that my dad visited me in a dream a few days after May 29, 2008. He was smiling. There was gold light everywhere. He was restored. He told me, "I am okay. I love you." 

It pardoned my heart from the horridness I felt telling him that he was going to be okay. He really was! 
It also helped take away the horrible image I had of the shell of the man who had always been the strongest. He was healed. 

I know God used that as a vision to give my heart peace. It was a miracle. You don't have to believe, I do. 

This past Spring in Lovely Girls Club, I got to talk about Jesus' BFF, Lazarus. And this morning I reread his story again. Highly recommend- John 11. Something I realized today was that it was that event, Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (4 days of death in fact) that seemed to be a real turning point in the conversions of many Jews. It spurred even more interest in The Way (Christianity) and it also drew a lot more heat from the Pharisees, the non-believing Jews.

The death of Lazarus was one of the tipping points of Jesus being crucified which was the way we, that believe, could all be saved from sin forever and have that victory over death.

Yet another demonstration of God using bad things for good, the "saving of many lives." Gen. 50:20

Have hope friends.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

J & G Go Full Nerd. Comic-Con 2014.

Ever since we met each other Sci-Fi has been a thing for my huznand and I.

Before we dated, John actually proposed to me at the Bryan Walmart. At least it was a Supercenter! We were with some fellow Aggie Howdy Camp pals, shopping for overalls I think, and I stopped to gander at the videos particularly these beloved cinematic masterpieces:





So naturally, he knew I was legit and asked for my hand in marriage right there in the movie aisle. And then later when we did start dating this happened:
I think I've mentioned that we entered ourselves into the, at that time, Shadow Canyon Costume Contest and we got second place after the major lame: "Cereal Killer." Whatever, moving on...

And for more qualification, while most children were watching Smurfs (I totally watched it too) I was watching

:
And I was best friends forever with:


We've ALWAYS dreamed of going to a Sci-Fi Convention, you know where we could align with our people.
And this past weekend, with the everloving help of Nana and Poppa we made our pilgrimage a reality. Sans the little xenomorphs... Just too much going on for those little scrappers!
 First about Dallas:
The Comic-Con was at Dallas. Now let's park right there.
 Dallas is fancy.
We are Houston folk.
And there's always been this thing there. They are Neimans, we are at our best, Foley's/Dillards/Macy's. Oh sure, we have a Neimans (we used to have 2!), but we will only ever be FDM. And they, Dallasites?, know it. They complain about our traffic, because Houston is gosh-awful crowded, but Dallas has what we think is the most confusing highway layout. Their exits happen upon you SO FAST. So we spent I'd say like 2 hrs just trying to drive around and park and this and that.

Dallas is much easier on the eyes.
There I said it.

Dallas is less crowded.

But Dallas has cold weather whereas Houston just plays around with the concept 2 weeks out of the year. So to me, Dallas is out. It might as well be Neptune.

We were Lofty.
So we go, we stay in a loft. We pretended we are still relevant and somewhat young.
We even went to the bar up on the rooftop. Just typing that made me feel as foolish as the FREAKINLOUDMUSIC and yuck cig smell everywhere and there was this Teach America Convention across the street that brought all these young thing teachers who are teaching America to the aforementioned SkyRoofTooCool bar top thing, but what they were really teaching was how to wear short dresses. I just wanted a pretzel. Do bars sell pretzels?
I really just wanted to go see a movie. Dang it.

The Comic-Con. 

We need to go to another one. Why? Because as soon as we got in line to get in, my mind shut down.



I just couldn't process:
All the outfits---- BY THE WAY. I wanted to dress up as the Crystalline Entity (an obscure TNG alien/obstacle) and John nixed it. In a way, he was right. Just getting around the whole mess was enough for our first time.
All the people to watch-- there was a guy in I guess some crazy Overload with horns and a robe and a staff and all that and he was in the atm machine line- it made me laugh so much!!!
Where to walk-- we didn't have a plan. Too much.
The fact that we were living out a dream.
HOW WE WERE GOING TO MEET LEVAR BURTON. 
 I'm not going to do justice to this.
We met LeVar Burton.
Geordi.
Reading Rainbow.
Roots.
He is as nice as he appears. Duh.
I was just like this:

THE WHOLE TIME.
Mouth agape.
And it was crowded. Like fire hazard crowded.
And I am beginning to fear crowds due to my lack of depth and peripheral vision (10 eye surgeries- always remember!).

The first thing we do is get in line for our photo op with the LeVar Burton, world's nicest person. I had so much in my mind to say to him. But instead I was socially awkward. Shocker.
I think I told him: "You're awesome."
Wow, he's going to remember that.
The show, Community, has a whole deal about how Troy meets LeVar and just can't deal with it. That basically is what happened to me:LeVar Burton Overload Moment.
Watch this if you have a second... It is perfectly what happens when you meet a celebrity you have loved since childhood... It's like in Neverending Story when Atreyu is faced with who he is by walking through the 2 statues. Yes. I'm happy with that description. That is what meeting one of your childhood heroes is like.

So here is the social awkward proof of one of the best/worst moments of my life: BUT FIRST disclaimers:
1. My shirt is NOT doing me justice. I knew I didn't like side-sag shirts! I'm not expecting. I was expecting a pretzel, but it never came to pass.
2. My arms are melting.
3. My glasses are covering my "special eyes."
4. I'm a photog who doesn't know a thing about how I personally should act/pose for photos.
5. I couldn't contain my feelings.
6. John looks awesome no matter what he does, says, acts, farts, whatever. He is always awesome. I try so hard! He just is.
So here it is, you've been warned:

LeVar couldn't be nicer, cooler, more awesome. He is the real deal. And I went around saying aloud, "Well we are best friends with Geordi now soo..... Yeah..."
I also said stuff like, "I know you all want to take pics with me- please one at a time." No one laughed.

I LOVE LEVAR BURTON Y'ALL!!!!!!!!
In the LeVar Burton, meet your destiny, line was  this SUPER SWEET girl was behind us and I wish I would have lamented with her more about the beautiful gown her mother sewed for her- yes!- that was the SPOT ON replica of Kaylee's dress from Firefly (Shindig episode):
She was also upset at how we just didn't have enough time to tell LB how great he is! Too much.
So after that mind melding we went on to get our autograph (you pay for all that btw) from Brent Spiner, aka: Data.
DATA FROM STAR TREK THE NEXT FREAKING GENERATION. 
I again just stood there and almost drooled out of my mouth at him as he asked for our names.
You know my name is pronounced: Hard G Gillian. Well he goes on to talk about how he knows Gillian (Soft G) Anderson and I go, "Can you please tell her how to say her name!?!?"
Great.
Cool moves Gillian.
Tell Data to tell Gillian Anderson how to say her name correctly.
After that, I could not come back from this mind shutdown awkward barfing so I just went comatose through the rest of the day.
And no pretzel.
But it was still awesome.

We watched Nathan Fillion in action.
Pretty sure this pic was taken illegally. Our bad.

He is an entertainer. He seems to be like he is on his shows- funny, endearing, someone you want to hang with, etc. Next time, we will get his autograph as he seems super friendly and really works the crowd.

Here's a list of some of the stars that were there: ANd what I think of them by looking at them for an average of 40 sec.
Marina Sirtis- Troi- TNG- she was beautiful!! You could tell how nice she was just from looking at her!!
Michael Dorn- Worf- TNG- he seemed like his character...
Christopher Lloyd- Doc Brown!!!!!!
William Shatner (he wasn't there on Saturday)
Denise Crosby- Tasha Yar- TNG
Alice Cooper- did you  know he's an outspoken Christian??!
Michael Rooker- Merle from Walking Dead- he seemed really cool. Wore shades.
Stan Lee- you could not take any pics nearby him whatsoever.
Beth from Walking Dead- she was the size of a fairy. I barely saw her!
Jewel Staite- Kaylee- Firefly, Serenity- she's precious!
Summer Glau- River- Firefly- Serenity- she's ballerina-ish!
Adam Baldwin- From so many things-- Firefly- didn't get a good look, but pretty sure he was awesome to meet
Sean Maher- Firefly- seemed genuinely nice!
Gina Torres- Firefly - didn't see her, but sure she had an air of awesomeness
The guy who played the Governor on Walking Dead.... Still mad at him.
Jonathan Frakes- Riker from TNG- Um, he's awesome.

So guys. It's getting late in the day. Here's some pics. Note we used our old point n' shoot as we didn't have time for the big camera and all that requires. It was so crowded and I was a total girl about that.
 Wait, first let me expand these wings that took 725 hours to make.
 You know, just chilling.
 I told you it was crowded. This is the area where all the stars were.



 Me and Barf. He's his own best friend.
 He almost got his arms ripped off.

So jealous of these people- They might as well been THE TMNT characters!!!!!!!

SO yeah. I'm still recovering from the mental workout. And the physical to be honest.
It was an overload of fun and the best part about it was being with Johnicles. He is THE coolest of all the people we saw. The funniest. The most creative. And I love him so much.

Sci-fi forever y'all.