From before eternity, our Father, the Artist, had determined for my thin, fragile little shred of thread to be a part of the tapestry of time. From the day I was born, the vapor-thin strings of everything that’s happened to me— and all the me that has happened to everything else— was meant to lead to the collision of color at the center of my portion of the design: the glorious, rainbow explosion of the gift of faith, faith that God gave me mere years ago but which he’d stitched into my timeline from the start. Before the start.
I wrote what follows in praise of the Father, who is glorious and terrifying and marvelous and tender and steady-handed, the source of all color and beauty. I also wrote what follows in praise of the Elder Brother, whose faithful sacrifice of his own beautiful blood made it possible for Abba to add the threads of my life to his masterpiece: The Bride.
Critics, gather round. Security guards, relax a little bit, take your leave to come gaze. Sponsors, marvel at the masterpiece you couldn’t even dream of affording. Lean close. Touch the glass. Let nothing separate you from the truth woven into His celestials-old tapestry:
“ALL PRAISE AND GLORY AND HONOR BE TO ABBA: WEAVER OF COLORS, ANCHOR FOR LOOSE THREADS, STEADY CUTTING HAND, MUSE FROM WHOM ALL LIFE AND BEAUTY FLOWS.
BREAK THE GLASS.”
2010 – 2019
“We look at life from the back side of the tapestry. And most of the time, what we see is loose threads, tangled knots and the like. But occasionally, God’s light shines through the tapestry, and we get a glimpse of the larger design, with God weaving together the darks and lights of existence.” -John Piper
-February 10: moved to Washington. In our first Washington house, I had the entire attic for my bedroom. It was frigid our first night there. But I remember sitting up there anyway, sipping from a raspberry lemonade I’d picked at Schnuck’s, daydreaming about all the fun I’d have in that space.
-March 17: first violin lesson. I walked away bored and discouraged cause I couldn’t jump straight in to playing fiddle pieces.
-Started attending Living Bread Church
-Gabby started public homosexual lifestyle
-First time in an orchestra. We practiced in an elementary school that has since been condemned and demolished
-New acquaintance— met Davis (and the Davises)
-Left Living Bread Church
-First visited Hawai’i. We landed on Maui the night the tsunami washed over from Japan. I didn’t realize yet what a sense of humor God has. Learned to surf. Mom went into denial when we got back to Missouri and there was snow everywhere; she covered all the windows with Hawai’ian newspaper pages.
-Met Riley, new orchestra stand partner.
–The Tell-Tale Heart for school: cue Edgar Allan Poe fascination.
-Golden puppy Koa Kamehameha comes home (“koa”: warrior. our Koa: fuzzball.)
-Second visit to Hawai’i: Maui –> Kauai. An elderly Hawai’ian priest helped my parents renew their vows while a homeless man played uke in the background.
–Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys: “Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.”
-Webster University orchestra
-Started learning guitar and ukulele
-Garage sale— met the Schneiders
-Webster University orchestra
–The Help, Kathryn Stockett: “Write about what disturbs you, particularly if it bothers no one else.”
-First time to First Baptist Church. First person I met in the building: Molly, who immediately bombarded me with a greeting. Sat by Riley. Loved how many young people were on the worship team. (That I’m a part of now! Isn’t he awesome?)
-Watched The Lord of the Rings for the first time. I fell in love with the truth flowing underneath the fantasy.
-Onset of depression and insomnia
–The Book Thief, Markus Zusak: changed the way I look at the sky, and at many other things
-Somewhere in here, I was given faith (!!)
-Introduced to Spotify: music and list-making? Yes!
-Gabby started dating Anthony, her coworker. A while later, they got married, making Anthony’s daughter Ally my second niece. Ally is wicked clever despite her learning disability, and despite all the trauma she’s witnessed, she still thirsts for life, and greets the day with huge dimples and a warm outlook.
-Art classes at church. Lisa, being a good teacher, told us all to pick something we wanted to paint. Mallory and I sort of followed the rules and picked images for each other: I wanted her to paint a close-up shot of Heath Ledger as the Joker, and she wanted me to replicate The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche. We both “paused” on our painting projects (continuing to work on them without telling the other person), and eventually gave the finished products to each other as presents.
-April 25: Brian & Taylor got hitched
-Read & watched Harry Potter for the first time. I’d finish reading a book and Mallory would watch that movie with me. The Sorting Hat quiz said Ravenclaw, but Mallory passionately believes I’d be a Hufflepuff, and seeing as how she knows me pretty well and I have no preference, Hufflepuff it is.
-Sixteenth birthday, saw Inside Out at the Walt Theatre: “I can’t take you to see a movie at the Calvin, so this is the next best thing.” -Mal
-Learning to live with the thorns. I took refuge in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
-New Year’s Eve: niece number three— Lorelai. One of the most affectionate and theatrical little girls I’ve ever met, and dimples for days. Like her aunt, she loves bologna and dancing through the house. Ask her to sing How Far I’ll Go from Moana sometime; you won’t regret it.
-Disney World trip
–Captain America: Civil War– Liv sided with Cap, I sided with Iron Man. We decided to maintain the friendship though.
-Europe trip: France—> Switzerland—> Austria—> Germany: Fainted on the plane, dragged everyone through the Catacombs, fell asleep on the subway, got dragged out of Switzerland, fell asleep at the dinner table, chased some cows, got separated from the group cause they walked too fast, saw some castles and stuff
-July 21: Coldplay concert– They played Green Eyes, which is one of my favorite songs of theirs. But it’s more obscure, so I thought for sure they wouldn’t do it. But they did, and acoustically, and they even moved closer to where Mal and I were standing! Ahh! Also, I had bronchitis, but I mouthed my heart out.
-Visited Lauren in STL. I convinced everyone to weave in and out of the stacks in the uni library like we were Scooby Doo characters.
-The Oh Hellos Christmas Extravaganza. Before the concert, Mal and Laura and I had chicken and waffles on the Loop. I almost fell off my stool (that I was standing on) when I got too excited during Dear Wormwood. We danced in the street and sang Thus Always to Tyrants while we waited for our ride.
-High school graduation: sat next to Riley
-First semester of college: sat next to strangers
-First Palloween party
-Had a kidney stone. 0/10, would not recommend.
-The Oh Hellos in concert. Mal, Quinn, Laura, and I walked around in art shops and Vintage Vinyl (where I got a vinyl of Bon Iver, perfectly warped) beforehand. We kept the contents of our wallets in our shoes so that we could properly utilize the mosh-pit.
-Idina Menzel at the Fox: a coffee shop customer said she’d gotten the tickets for her clients but they hadn’t shown up, so I asked Mal, Quinn, and Allie to go, and… turns out the seats were the super expensive box seats. People looked at us like we didn’t belong up there, but we had much more fun than they did (they didn’t even sing along to Let It Go).
-Forgiveness four years in the giving to a friend. This statement from John when I told him still rings through my head: “Wow, that’s exciting. That’s so much of the heart of my mom and what she desired for the church. I know she interceded for you.”
–Sue & Wanda: apparently my crown achievement.
-Dreadlocks: 14 hours is all it takes to be constantly asked if you have weed
-“God says his light is a lamp unto our feet, but a lamp doesn’t shine light far ahead. It only illuminates the next few steps.” -Becca
-Sing! chats and ttmmh: warmth
-Imagine Dragons in concert with Mallory and Brooklynn. Stargazing during Walking the Wire.
-Wedding practice with Leanna & Mondays with the Meltons. Monday quickly became my favorite day.
-July 11: it’s official, The Lord of the Rings is literally engrained in my skin
-July 14: Elephant Rocks with Mal and Becca
-September 7: you’re so loved, Charlie Denner
-Broke out of a kidnapping (Escape room time: 51:08)
-January: visited the Big Island– flew by myself for the first time and sprinted through the airport to make my flight, drank at the kombucha bar, danced with a hundred sweaty people at a music festival, jumped off a cliff, drank out of a coconut from an elderly Hawai’ian, couldn’t leave the Big Island because of snowstorm Gia, decided I do like orange if it’s the shade of that Hawai’ian sunset on the ocean
-Saw Avenger’s Endgame with enough friends to fill the entire row (not including parents, who are also major nerds)
-May 25: Emily & Ethan got hitched.
-VBS: had Ruthie & Hope for helpers, got my whole team to floss at one point (their hips, not their teeth–I’m not that powerful), played under a firetruck hose
-July 13: Leanna & Drew got hitched.
-July: Colorado with Becca and Mal. Smiling at my sleeping car buddies, Akbar, the three of us cry-laughing over spilling our luggage in the lobby and then using an elevator of Tower-of-Terror-like proportions, spotting an elk as he passes our reading spot in Garden of the Gods, conversation with elderly locals at eccentric coffee shops, vegan matcha ice cream, running down the Rocky Mountains in a heavy downpour, waving to Dane every time we passed the USAFA, cramming into one bed for LOTR, Becca sweetly braiding my hair every day, bubble tea, doing Hapkido flips to Becca on her bed, and so many other lifelong memories.
-Sing! conference: meeting friends in the flesh (but more in the Spirit), chicken fights, worship imitative of eternity, hugging Ellie Holcomb, illuminating Sammy’s calculus homework, arriving back home to a thunderstorm
-August: answered prayer— a catalyst that shakes my parents to their cores
-Riley’s engaged: looked at dresses for a very brief time (that’s my girl), ate at Olive Garden with she and her mom, and cry-laughed over The Office quotes. Her fiancé Josh is in the Navy, so she’s gonna move to live on base with him this coming summer. I’m gonna miss her so.
-September 13: Wilder Adkins and The Gray Havens in concert. David and Licia told the story of how they met. I talked to (at, he’s charmingly timid) Wilder Adkins about autoharps while he waited for someone to find a Sharpie so he could sign my vinyl. The Gray Havens finished with an acoustic, floor performance of Far Kingdom.
-October 13: music and reading at Moe’s. Uncontainable joy, the supportive faces of so many loved ones, voices of friends who know the words, C.S. Lewis. “For the first in my life, I’m not living a lie, and I hate who I am.” (Eustace Scrubb, Sarah Sparks)
-October 26: praying over the phone with Blair for a miracle– and God so tenderly answered
-November: happiness and hygge on the Harman homestead. Pot stickers, morning greetings from turkeys, Myth Busters, essay-reading with Ruthie, leafy tea from the hands of a master, trail walks, dragging Luke around in a giant pillow case, environmental bio nerd-ing with Lisa, hope of returning.
-God spares a loved one from a suicide attempt.
I’ve often despaired that I’ve had little to no base of family stability on which to build memories. Every day in my childhood and adolescence could have meant a different house, a different city, a different explosion, a different tear in the fabric of my blood-family. And it almost always did end with those things. Consequently, I’ve had little family, or “belonging,” identity to speak of. I made memories, but somewhere along the way, I learned not to grow attached to them. I didn’t claim them. This loose grip on life and its happenings has made slowing down and noting blessings very difficult for me. I suppose I’ve gotten cozy with the lie that life isn’t slow enough to be lived, it just happens to you.
But God’s been kneeling beside my bed. Every morning since I was born, as his song over me faded away and he stimulated my wakening, he’s been softly saying, “Oh, Gia. How I love you so. That you would look into my face and live.”
And now, as the hands that tickle the stars condescend to scrape the stardust from my eyes, I faintly begin to understand.
I can’t ignore the messy stitching of the past, nor can I know what colors await me in the future; I can’t return to my mother’s womb and refuse to come out until the family God gave me puts away its soul-suicidal ways.
But now, right this moment, I can actively ask God to “fill my lungs with joy,” as N.D. Wilson aptly puts it (Death By Living). From this moment of awareness until the light leaves my earthly eyes, I can ask for the grace to devote this vaporous lifetime to careful observation and reckless living of my new life in Christ. That life means I can begin to make memories now– to take stock of what remains constant– rather than hating God for what does not. I can live with wide eyes and quick feet, ready to laugh and cry and laugh so hard I cry at whatever colors the Lord uses to paint my microscopic dot on his landscape of love. I can drink up life, people, music, moon phases, earthworms, skinned knees, depression in the midst of joy, by the bucket-ful.
Grace upon grace for the moments when I fall back into taking life too seriously; and grace upon grace for the rare moments when I live it well. May holiness and color and tenderness overflow from this vessel. When God comes to reclaim my soul for good, may I remember: stargazing, messes in the kitchen, instruments spread out across the floor, Christmas Eve services, my friends’ laughs, digging for worms, kisses, the sweet scent of rain, rich Scripture. And may I cling to the arms of my Jesus, that I might not only stand, but that I would dance— skill-lessly, drunkenly, joyfully.