Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ann's blog has moved ...

Ann's blog has moved to annkiemel.com.

Please change your bookmark and reader settings to reflect this change. 

Thanks much!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"be silent and know that i am God"

it's been one of those days where
i jump up from bed...have a casual conversation
with God...and head out with my agenda on a
piece of paper. i give everyone and everything else
more effort and priority than Jesus. i line up these
words and am devastated and ashamed. what makes
this so easy for me? what makes me feel so calloused
about my time with God that He often gets the short
end of the deal.

and my days are ALWAYS not up to snuff when i
overlook Jesus, my Lord and Savior. when the day
is a wrap, and i look back and study it, i can see how
far off the straight line i've been on.

for instance, i went to the gym today. left my bottle
of vitamin water on the eliptical because i forgot my ear
phones...JUST IN CASE something looks good on one of
the screens...and i can have relief from counting to 100 over
and over and over.

when i returned to the machine, there was a big muscle guy
working away on MY eliptical. "excuse me, sir..." and i
tap his arm since his head phones shut everything out. "excuse
me, but you are on MY machine!" he looks over at me as if
i'm a bug the size of a piece of gravel. and just keeps going.

tapping him again, i ask how much longer he is going to be
working on the machine. "20 minutes..." and he turns away.
for the last time, i show him my water bottle. so he gets the
picture more clearly. repitition is supposed to exact change.

he grabs his towel, and goes somewhere else. and i know,
for sure, that i have just blown it with God and this guy in my
world and myself. i feel badly, but not badly enough. i just
jump on and start running as fast as i can. suddenly, out of the
corner of my eye, i realize this giant is now working the machine
next to me. and i stop. drop my head. and repent. the selfish
game is over.

it's so simple.
admitting to the ONLY One who ultimately can forgive me,
that i have truly messed up. His arm stretches out...
and wraps me into His robes, and in a second...a moment...
I have experienced Redemption. oh, how sweet forgiveness is.

i get my sweater and keys, and i stand directly in front of this
giant. i wait until he sees me. i tell him i'm ashamed of myself.
that i am selfish and i KNOW God isn't pleased with me. earnestly,
i ask him if he will forgive me. he glances at me and keeps going.

"please will you forgive me?"
i refuse to move. hoping. waiting.
"yea...okay." and i smile and thank Him.
and tomorrow morning, i expect to soak in God's Word.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Jesus is out to redeem the world!!

it all happened so FAST that day.
i had stopped to pick up a bowl of soup
to carry out. nestled in my lap to eat
when i arrived at a friend's house. pulling
up the slight upgrade. turning right. and

suddenly, my bowl flew out of my lap.
scalding soup on my arms, splashed on
my face. and the entire time, i'm trying to
grab it because it was headed toward the passenger
seat where i had important papers.

my car hit the right curb hard. flattened the tire.
and i got out to assess things and think of what
I sould do. for years, i always had AAA, but not
now. a man came running up.

"we need a tow truck to pull your right tire
back over the curb. you know...police officers
can call for a tow truck faster than anyone."

and he began motioning to a police cruiser
while i innocently stood by. two cars came.
four officers piled out. two approached me.
i told them the story as i stood there in a black
dress with potato soup all over the front.

"have you been drinking?"

i frown. drinking as in alcohol? i never drink.
it is not a moral issue with me. i just can't stand
the taste. i have never even had a sip of beer.

they shine a little flashlight in my eyes. i was
scheduled for surgery because the pupil in one of my
eyes would slide side to side.

"well, we can see by your eyes that you have been
drinking, and are arresting you with a DUI..."

they grab my arm and push me into the back of
a cruiser with a grill separating me from the officers.
a certain kind of hysterics begins to rise in my throat.
choking me. how could a steaming bowl of soup in my
lap equate with driving under the influence?!!

i began to tell them, "draw my blood!" my voice rises
in pitch. "do you hear me? draw my blood...."

we drove to a hospital's emergency room, and
with an officer on each side, push me into a small room
where a nurse draws my blood and says the results will take
awhile. then i am driven to another town where the large,
women's prison is. i take off my jewelry. they made me take
a mug shot...and put me on a hard plastic chair. i cannot think
of anyone tocall. in such unrelenting panic, i can't even think
of one phone number to call.

more women are brought in. one sat next to me, legs crossed.
chomping on gum. smart and sassy. she tells me i am to NEVER
leave home without MONEY. she tucked hers in her bra and
panties. i realize she's a prostitute. all the other women are more
frightened. fear eating a path from their brains to their hearts.
stark terror. i suddenly don't seem to realize the wrongs against
me. i am quietly moving from one chair to another.

"dont be afraid. Jesus is with you. He will sustain you.
be strong in Him." or, "just know how much God loves you,
and He will see you through the night. i promise you this!"

at 6:45 p.m., they tell me there's a bus three fields over, and i'd
better hurry because it doesn't wait for anyone. i left my cell
phone in my car. had $6 in my purse (you have to have $20 to
call a cab). and sent me out a side door. these fields were
massive. they had just been tilled. huge holes where you could
step into and break your ankle, or worse. with tears streaming,
i leaned over and took my flip-flops in my hand. looking down
so as not to step into a hole and break my ankle, i started
running as fast as i could.

i barely made the bus stop. my hands shaking so badly that
i couldn't pull any change out of my purse and the driver told me
to just sit down. i made sure that no one passed my way that i did
not speak the name of Jesus to. found where they towed my car. the
most dangerous area of the city. "you got yourself a flat tire,"
the greasy, unkempt guy told me.

well, can you please change it? i asked with true humilty and
desperation. it was now almost 1 a.m.. "nope!" i pulled my last
$20 (from the atm) out and laid it on the counter. amazing what
you can accomplish with a little cash. it was very difficult driving
the 45 minutes home. i could barely keep the car on the road
because i was shaking violently.

a wonderful Christian man hired a lawyer for me.
i waited in the courtroom as men and women with their
hands and ankles chained together, faced the judge. jan and my
two youngest sons sat with me. i leaned over, looked my sons
straight in the eyes.

"don't be afraid for me. this is a courtroom for murderers and
pimps. i don't know what will happen except i know Jesus will
give me grace..." and suddenly my name was called. i called the
judge "sir" rather than "your honor", my attorney had to repeat
everything in a low murmur to me because i was so scared. the
blood tests proved my blood was clean, and i received 'dry and
reckless', with probation for five years...or something to that

what do we do when nothing makes sense? when we are thrown
to the wolves? we fight our cause. we remain steadfast that God
is faithful and will never abandon us. we cry out for courage
because courage is a gift from the Lord. and then, the warm sun
slips above the horizon. a flock of geese fly by. the air smells
clean and joyful as we realize that sometimes, the Savior allows
pretty-difficult circumstances so we are placed by the broken.
the wounded. the lost.

hallelujan! what a Savior.
glorious and magnificent.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

a friend asked me what i do while running
two straight hours at the gym. and i told him
i count to 100 on every finger; over and over and over.
just to keep my mind busy. sometimes, i watch the
t.v.'s, hanging above us, but those channels are usually
not too entertaining.

Jesus, my Runner, beside me, is often planting thoughts
in my mind, too. about the runners around me. that NO one
really knows the next guy's problems. so i pray. one night,
i watched an older guy run until sweat was pouring...literally...
down his face and arms. his intensity commanded respect.
from anyone. everyone.

one night, when he finished, i stopped my run. introduced myself.
we shook hands. i applauded him. his push and momentum and single-
minded focus.

"well, my teenage son was killed a few months ago,
and this has been my way to work through my sorrow."

wow, losing one's son! i have four. every moment i think
of them. pray for them. silently cheer for them as i go through
my day. and here is a man who can never do that again.

"just for curiosity, do you push for a certain amount of calories,
or for distance?" i asked him. i don't even look at the calories.
distance is my war cry...yet, for him, it is all about calories.
when he hits a certain amount, game is over. challenge accom-
lished. he rubs his face and arms with a clean towel, nods good-
bye to me each night, and disappears down the stairs, and back
home to his shattering reality.

lonely people.
all around us.
sometimes they look so beautiful
and well-put-together. often, i've learned
in speaking with them, that the better they look,
the darker their demons.

i'm always trying to build bridges at the gym.
i was doing something different one night. working
on weights. facing the mirror. and i noticed this
lovely woman next to me, looking into the same mirror.
i was drawn to her.

"excuse me, but i want to tell you that i LOVE your tiny
boobs. this crazy world today makes women feel we aren't
good enough without them."

her face broke into a big smile.
"oh, thank you for telling me this. you have no idea
HOW much i've struggled over this. my husband tells me
he's happy with them, but i've been to two plastic surgeons
about enlarging my breasts, yet always come away without
the courage to follow through."

"well, i love them. never believe the lie that says
we are not enough. Jesus made us exactly as we are.
i confess i have alot of insecurities about myself, but i know
God loves creating beauty."

people whose lives are imploding, and
many of them have a very small support group.
Jesus places us right beside the most hurting ones
who are brilliant at covering their pain. but pain lives
in all of us. in different ways. trust me. count on it.
everyone is broken.

it's like a puzzle. trying to fit all the shapes into the
right places. that is what loving people to Jesus is all about.
this morning, i read 2 chronicles, 1:1-17. i want to be humble
and always seeking wisdom like solomon. let's try to keep our
lives intact.

i called jan, and began to read your comments about her
from the blog. she was feeling so down, so bless you,
thank you. with my head bowed. ann

Monday, March 5, 2012

reach out and touch....Him!

i want to wrap myself in the sun-dried
robes of Jesus. the smell of the sun and warmth
from His constantly-moving with the crowds amidst the dust
and rock and dirt. the soft texture of the fabric worn
by those hugging Him; those reaching out and grabbing
for just one touch,

sometimes, life is very hard,
and i just long for the smell of His
compassion, the aroma of His love.
a piece of His glorious power that begins
to soak into my bones and hurts and fears.

i just want to be closer to Him.
my Savior and God of the world.
His arm is NEVER short. even today He
folds us into the tucks of the fabric that
wraps us. . . and pours us into His healing,
rushing waters of love. . .so we NEVER are alone, and
we can always know He never forsakes us even
if today is a bunch of distractions and failures.

do you worry about your children?
oh, i do. they are strong and devoted to me....
and genuinely sweet and loving. i just lay on
my face, at the bottom of my bed, and weep and
pray over them. as a mother, i've learned that you
usually can't see them ALL on the high road. one
is worrying about his studies in school. another, about
a girl. another is always on the chase of more financial
security. so...i am always praying. face in the carpet.
tears soaking the rug. crying out over my most-cherished
gifts of life.

something about "crying out" that comforts me.
i don't want my children to carry secrets. i want them to
trust me enough to share. my job is to listen and love and
say a few things...NO scorching lecture. no preaching. if
they feel safe, they will confide. and then, i have a whole lot
of praying to do. and because the are in their 20s, i talk
to them, if it feels right,. . .about some of my difficulties.

children know EVERYTHING.
they just do. their ears hear it all. their intuition
is acute. nothing makes me long more for Jesus than
my children. they ARE, forever, the clean smell of
ocean waves and cloudless skies and the threads
from Jesus' robes.

your messages to me are so touching that they
make me weep. the love and compassion and encouraging
words draw me again and again to read and reread them
smell the love...so vast...of Jesus. hear the swish of His robes.
and when the sun warms your skin, remember it is God's reminder
that His worn robes of love wrap themselves around you. His is
COUNTING on us to do the bridge-building. the love sharing.
we are ALL He has.

balloons fly. there is a strain of music...and just a sliver of an angel's wing.
holiness and beautiful grace follow us. if you have had 5 or 1 or more
abortions. or murdered or found yourself gossiping or
raging...the Blood has covered it all. His grace turns our sins
from red to white as wool. so....Never ever lose heart.
love, ann
corinthians 1:23-24

Sunday, March 4, 2012

jan has had a bone marrow transplant.
cancer of the blood. huge doses of chemo which
left her with no hair. the second toe on each foot
began to cross over her big toes.

she lost all her hair.
the hardest part, hands down,
of all of it. today, if has grown in blond,
amazingly thick, and wears it short. everyone
raves about how she looks. has been in remission
three years.

as she went in to the beauty shop to have her
nails done and hair washed, her manicurist
came over to her. arms folded. eyes closed
(i guess out of nervousness). she said,
"jan, i think your hair doesn't look good a little longer;
you need to wear it very short. it's stunning that way."

the sun had suddenly crawled behind the lingering clouds.
all music stopped. noise in the beauty shop ceased. and
jan's happy spirits were erased by sorrow and unspoken'
sadness. cancer had brought alot of difficult things into her
life. more than anything, she looks in the mirror, and
doesn't even know who she is anymore.

the punch-in-the-stomach words are often said
without realizing what they might mean. i really
don't believe this woman meant to hurt jan. jan is
just yearning to accept her new identity. i've never
had cancer, but will died of kidney cancer, and know
many who have had it. you are never quite the
well . . . i think most aren't.

in loving the world to Jesus,
it seems best to be more quiet than loud.
more sensitive to what others might possibly
be feeling. how they might interpret things.

it's a skill: loving the world to Jesus.
building bridges instead of walls. try to think of
beautiful words that might cheer someone.

there was a man outside the grocery store today.
and right next to my car. he asked if i knew my one
light was out. honestly, it would be impossible NOT
to notice. still haven't had the courage or money to
get it fixed. hmmmm. here was someone God had
placed in my face.

he talked about how hard it was to make it in this
economy. that he had a place for his family to sleep
every night. but nothing left over for food. i only had $8
in my purse. but i looked at him.

"sir, do you know Jesus? He's our only Hope, you know..."
well, he needed to get his family back in church. . . yes. . . just
hard to do alot of things. i put my cash in his hand. reminded
him that no matter where we are, Jesus is far bigger than our
impossibilities. and patted his shoulder.

light a candle.
study the people around you.
look for ANYTHING that might touch
them. kind words go a long way with me.

candles burning. the weary-worn world reaching
for the flicker of light. be faithful, soldiers.
one day at a time. as the glow begins to dim.
understand that the shadow of God's Presence
is always, always with us. leading the way.
love, ann

Thursday, March 1, 2012

our journey to grace

my daddy was a preacher.
fired up. sometimes, spit flew as he
was talking about the wiles of the devil.
he would hold his Bible up, and pace,
back and forth on the platform. He
would tell the congregation there was NOTHING
to fear or doubt or lose hope ever because the
Lord would always be taking care of it all.

we had family devotions every morning and
night. it was an absolute that we all kneel,
and that my father would always do the
praying. always. always. as if God wouldn't
hear one of us. and His prayers went on and
on and on. my mother, who was a concert
pianist. . . and so laid back. . . somehow believed
herself that we would all only make it to Heaven
because of daddy.

my father would always write, in his check book,
"to my dear Heavenly Father" for each tithe payment.
He loved Jesus and was devoted to his "flock".
we would be having dinner, and someone would call
with a need, and my father would listen and counsel and
weep as he prayed with them. on the phone in the
kitchen while we ate and listened and observed.

in his prayers, my father would always pray to be
removed from every atom of sin and self. i never
knew what that was really. . . but it was major to my
father. and he just couldn't, until a few years before
he died, accept that his son, fred, was a rebel and
prodigal. that is where my co-dependency started.
five years old, and it became an all-out mission to
make my father happy.

my beautiful mother was the one we ran to if my
father chastised us and told us that our arguing
made God sad. God. . . sad??? that scared jan
and me, and my mother would console us by saying
that she wanted to scream many times, and God understood.
that He never demanded perfection. we could keep going
with that. comforted.

that was jan's and my genesis. but, even now, i don't
think there is a day that i don't sin in thought or deed.
a thought of pride. an argument with jan over the phone when it
was nothing. andn i should have kept my mouth shut.
and let it be. just let it be. she means more than life to me.
just like my four children. i talk when i should be silent.

living really isn't about perfection. only about wholeness.
at celebrate recovery, i go to the room for co-dependents.
i'm a recovering pill addict, but i need women with substance
who can lay their sins on the table beside mine. i don't want
to push down a secret. keep it hidden. and i'm still afraid
to tell certain people in my life what i really feel. i end up
choosing to go along with their plans, and letting mine scatter.
down the hills. into the rivers. lost. gone.

always remember grace.
God's magnificent way of really knowing us
deep down, and showing us mercy when we don't
deserve it. it's such a beautiful thought that i can
taste the goodness of it. sweet to my lips. warmth to
my bones.

late again. reading all your thoughts.
longing for goodness in each of
your lives. chew, and swallow. . . the treasure
of grace. accept it for yourselves. i am always
trying to do the same. to always remember. . .
God is merciful.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jesus, use me today...

your comments keep coming.
i read every one of them, riveted by
your love and journeys. a thick chord
of rope ties us together. makes us a
family. . . and gives us the Race to run

if you have questions, or something you want
me to write about, let me know in your responses.

i'm driven by a mission to touch the world for Jesus.
this seems so difficult for most people to understand.

every day, in the morning, we earnestly ask the Lord
to put people right in front of our faces. from no where.
the bank teller. a woman in the grocery store who needs
something. the gas station attendant. we don't have to
go looking for people. God does that. and we don't have
to always speak about Jesus because we are, with everyone
we connect to, building a wall or a bridge. well, i'm out
to build bridges. . . not walls. . . and sometimes, building takes

i was sitting in the lab at the doctor's office when a beautiful,
young hispanic woman walked in with her little (4 yrs. old)
son. she looked at me with a desperate, scattered glance.
i immediately got it. they were going to draw blood from
the child, and she was worried over how he would get through
this. suddenly, his name was called, and i nodded to his mother
that i was praying; covering her back. within minutes, my name
was called. there were little rooms divided by drapes.

suddenly, i heard this little boy screaming. in terror. in pain.
sobbing endlessly. i was praying. they were now drawing my
blood and i'm not very enthusiastic either because i have very
little veins that wiggle and move. i was on my way out of
this office when i suddenly stopped. i had noticed that the
little boy was still in the room. i looked in my purse. i found
a $5 bill. turned around. went back to the child's little room.
his face covered with tears. hiccuping sobs.

i walked in. smiling. i took his little hand in mine. put the
$5 bill in his palm, and folded his fingers around it.

"this is for you because you have been such a brave
little boy today. it took so much courage, and i'm proud
of you. this money is for you to go and buy ice cream, or
anything else you want!" i hugged him.

he looked up and smiled.
"thank you."
his mother and grandmother stood. smiling.
and i walked out of the big building of offices.
heading for my car. my eyes were shining. the
breeze warmed my face. i was no one. just one, ordinary
person in the world. but everything was changed.
i had loved a little boy like Jesus would. He and i and
love, changing the world together.

"come walk with me. . . through field and forest. . .
come climb the hills, and hear that song. for even
hills cannot be silent. they just can't help it. God
gives a song..."

for you. for me. for any and everyone.
try praying this prayer today:
"Jesus, please put someone in my path today
that i can love for you..."

a miracle is waiting for you!

almost midnight, and i've been reading all
your messages to me. some from people i
personally know and love. . . and mostly from you
all whom i've never met. . .but i genuinely love,
and feel we are a family. you measure my heart.
you teach me. we are reminded that life is a battle.
that we stand together. and i keep praying for you.
every one of you.

a miracle today.
i took $15 out of my account (lvg. $15 until sunday
when social security drops money into my acct.)
because i just HAD to have a work-out, and have
been waiting to see about a special offer for a yr.'s
membership. so. . . they've been charging me $15
for a two-hour work-out. can you believe that?

i walked up to the counter.
you must understand that i go to the gym without
any make-up. in shorts or sweat pants, with a cut-out
old tee-shirt. sleeves cut off. as low a profile as i can.
hair falling loose from my ponytail. i walked up to the
counter with my $15 when the manager walked up.

"you are ann, aren't you?
we gave you that 30-day membership didn't we?
i'm trying to come up with a special plan for you. . . so are
you alright at the moment?"

"well, i have to pay $15 every day. . ." and i am embarrassed
suddenly by my appearance.

"what? no. . .no." he turns to the girl behind the counter.
"give ann a seven-day, free pass."

miracles. just reminding you that Jesus is FULL of surprises
and miracles. and everything. . . our doubts, our failures, our seemingly-
hopeless situations. . . our
struggles and heartbreaks. . . everything is all covered by the Blood.
even the holes we fall into. the Blood of Jesus pulls us out and
sets our feet back on track. the Blood delivers us. sets
us free. there isn't alot of talk today about the Blood, but it's our
Redemption. it is EVERYTHING!

"how precious is the flow...
that washes white as snow...
no other Fount i know,
nothing but the Blood of Jesus."

today, kiss a child. tell someone she is beautiful.
smile at EVERYONE who looks your way. and watch.
we don't have to go door to door to share Jesus. we
just tell Him every morning that we are ready for Him to
put someone right in front of us. someone who needs
God's love. and He will do it every single day if we are
watching, and listening, to Jesus.

miracles and the Blood.
oh, i want to bathe in Jesus' Blood.
soak in it until it has seeped into my
brokenness. my pain. my yearning.
the crack in my soul. until i am whole.
not perfect and complete, but whole.

Monday, February 27, 2012

here i am on monday.
2 p.m. and still in my pajamas.
have had my devotions. eaten.
covered my emails. dragging myself
like a snail. coming up with any detour
i can to postpone what must be done
today for me to have any self-respect
when i go to bed tonight.

jan called. she said i talk too much
about my money situation. as if i am
begging you all to help me. i stopped
breathing. silence and horror pounding
in my head.

jan, i speak about my situation because so
many people today are struggling. the economy is
so bad. i've tried to let my readers know i am
with them. i understand. but... as you say this
(and i am whispering to my sister at this point),
i believe you are right. NOT about people helping
me, but scratching worry lines in my blogs.
exposing my fear and lack of trust in Jesus for
my situations.

tuesdays are always better than mondays.
i've talked myself in to believing this.
but i want to ask you all, who might feel
like my sister, to forgive me. one of my
daily sins is the fear of not making it
every month. the Lord COMMANDS us to
NOT worry. sooo............

pray for me.
and i will, for you. and i am
earnestly going to attempt speaking
without whining and fear.

now. . . i must run. vacuum. clean my
closet. and fit the gym in. before i sleep
tonight. i will, as always, check in to see how
you all are doing. i love you. ann
have i told you that i not only hate
early mornings, but i especially dread
mondays, with an entire week to get through?!!
monday mornings . . . require a
more rigorous task than just walking through a
serious tornado. early on mondays means
forcing me to not only do the tornado run but climb a
slanting mountain through a slippery waterfall.

you guessed it.
tomorrow is monday.

brandt and jasmine dropped off colben
my doll-baby grandson. two week-end days.
you can see why i LOVE week-ends.

well, after devotions and prayer time with God,
i am sure that heading to the gym is my best solution.
run it out. let sweat roll and tensions ease. just clean
it up with Jesus. when your work-out has calmed your
anxieties and levelled all the pressures, then, you can
go home and clean out your closet. straighten your
spine. wipe the bathroom counters. unload the dish-
washer. pay bills (as many as you can).

monday mornings must have been evaluated by God,
and He decided they are VERY important in our
discipline to say "yes" to Him, no matter what. it seems
He created what i call 'misery' to keep us on our toes
in this relentless battle called 'life'. to force us to take
our feet. swing them over the bed. . . align them, and start
walking. . . and waiting for Jesus to put people right smack
in front of us to love and be kind to. and often to speak
about this glorious Savior who can steady every
broken heart, and what seems like relentless hardship
and failure.

i'm determined to work on my spirit re: monday mornings.
to go even farther, and just let Jesus do in me whatever He's
noticing that is out-of-tune. i want Jesus. want Him with all
my heart. He has a big job cut out when it comes
to me. many corrections, and even some coersion issues.

Jesus says we are to run to win.
to WIN! some assignment. huge
in my book. i need some rushing water and
encouragement and reassurance. even a thunder-clap
now and then.

it is after midnight.
when we open our eyes in the morning,
let's don our crowns. and our big boots for
marching. i am so HOPING i'll see you on the trail.

proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, February 24, 2012

one a.m.
another day wrapped up.
always checking in on your lives
and thoughts. anointed water...in
some way divine...running down my
back, my eyes, my soul. your honesty
haunts me. makes me yearn to be purer
and cleaner and more-unveiling to you,
my friends and readers.

i spoke tonight to about 20 women, in a
chinese restaurant 45 min. away. a small
church needing a speaker. would i come?
yes. yes, of course. my neighborhood.

i stood. 15 minutes.
trying to explain the simplicity and ease of sharing
Jesus in each of our world's. and ALWAYS confessing
that i am an addict in recovery. imperfect. human. flawed.
Jesus begins to breathe in us.
His love is like a torch in our darkest places.

you do not need to go door to door, shaking and terrified,
to share Jesus. just pray. ask Jesus to put
people in front of you today that you can touch. a word.
a smile. speaking the name of Jesus. a $5 bill tucked
into a little boy's hand. a song. then, Jesus does
the rest. it is that simple. and one by one, the world
around us is changed. you watch! you'll see!

tonight, may God's rest cover you. may His love
soak into your wounds, and heal them...and you...to
your core. just remember that we are all broken, and
we'll clean our slate of failures for today...and tomorrow,
somewhere, we'll probably mess up again. a thought of pride.
a moment of unkindness. it's not hard. we just slide right
off the road to the wrong side of good. in a second,
before we can catch ourselves. i sin every day somewhere.
lack of faith. worry. it is like a bad habit i can't overcome.

i love you. i carry your wounds with me.
we are shoulder to shoulder.
marching sort of lopsided along
the road. we'll get there. to the other side.
in His time.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

very late. again reading your
messages to me. oh gosh, they
are so moving and beautiful and
touching that i have no words.
just a constant chant to God;
thank you, Jesus. thank you. bless
us all, Lord. bless us all.

it is wednesday and i just returned from jan's.
my twin sister. she and her husband live in
sacramento. two blocks from the capitol.
huge, beautiful loft. over-looking the city. i LOVE
my sister. i run to her. disrobe, and let her know
every dark place and every terrified thought.

i confess that sometimes i feel envious and jealous
of all jan has. she can go into a store and buy anything
she likes. never has to worry about money. or paying
the bills. i always open the drawers of her chest, and....

check all the new tops and night gowns. i stand in her
closet and see all these beautiful things that she matches
and blends that make her look exquisite. for awhile,
we decided that if i wouldn't talk about my daily terror
over money, she wouldn't buy anything new. she and
tom have been SO good to the children and me while
they were growing up (after will died and i lost everything).
she lets me borrow some of her things. bought me my
purse. new uggs. there is no pretension in her and tom.

i come back to stockton, and i feel lonely.
i evaluate myself, and there are many things i could
improve on. well, my hair desperately needs highlighting,
and my toe-nails are black from running so long and
hard, and i can never polish them like the manicurist.
i MUST stop worrying about money, and how i'll make
it. Jesus has NEVER failed me. and He loves the poor
and weak and needy. we are His specialties.

i have a good driving record. no real accidents. but i
get distracted. just got my car back ('05 kia sorento...suv)
from running into a medium strip dividing the lanes down
the road. only to back out of my driveway, trying to miss
this huge moving truck, and backed into a red pick-up
parked behind it. and the other night, trying at midnight
to find my way to the inner-city hospital to be with my
friend, i pulled into a gas station to ask a guy pumping
gas if i was on the right road, and the car behind me
wouldn't back up, so instead of waiting, i tried to pull
around it, and clipped the cement platform where the
pumps are. hit the edge of my right bumper.

fred owns the collision body shop. he has deep creases
in his face from age or smoking or a stressed life, but he
is one of my heroes. i am always praying that God will
bring him lots of business. i wrote him a note one day,
and while i was waiting for him to fix something on my car,
i went to the waiting room, and saw the note pinned on
the wall for all to see. i think i am about all he knows about
Jesus. and am probably the answer to my own prayers
that he get more business.

i called him, crying, after hitting my front fender. it was almost
too mortifying to tell him i was in trouble again. he knows he
always has to come up with a special deal because i don't have

"honey, just bring the car back in, and we'll
get it fixed for you." oh, that comforts me.

when tomorrow comes,
forget about the day after.
just live for tomorrow as if it is your last.
that's what i want to do. i'm so excited about
the prospect of a gym membership. of all the
people that pass me in the grocery store or target.
i smile at them; they at me. i love speaking the
name of Jesus every chance i get. and i really,
really want to change my world. love wins. love
never gives up. love lives even when the sun
isn't shining. when the news is bad. love is
truly all there is...and all there will ever be.

ephesians 3:16-19

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

it's after midnight,
and i've been reading all
your poignant, touching
messages to me, and praying
for each of you.

today has been like the children's
book i read to my boys about a terrible,
awful, no-good day. i awakened happy, but...

some good friends keep recommending other
blogs i need to follow to improve mine. my
ship of creativity begins to sink. then...

i needed a new tire. going to les schwab,
i have a little paper with my bank statement
on it. and i say that i need A new tire.

"ma'm, you have three, bad tires."

"three?!! i can only buy one."

"how about two new ones in front.
and asap, get two new more soon."

$333.00 for two!
i'm subtracting this on my piece of
paper, ten days before a new month
and a new check. except for $20 i had
to send my son in college, that was all i
had. chewing my fingernail, i said, "o.k."

my cell phone wouldn't respond when i hit
a number. my computer said there was a
problem. somehow, a hand grabbed ahold
of my sweat pants, and started pulling me
into the waters of despair, and i was kicking
and screaming as i went under.

what do i do on an awful, terrible, all-around no
good day? i pull on my work-out clothes. tie my
shoes. grab the last $20. and head for the gym.
since i've not been able to afford a membership
yet, i go to barter my way in. the manager wanted
$15. i laid down $10. as always, i climb on the
machine. bow my head. ask for Jesus, my Runner,
to help me through this. and i run, non-stop, for
almost two hours until sweat is pouring down my
face and tickling my back. until my Runner and i
have worked everything out between us. Jesus
and i doing business.

i'll find another $10 to make up the $20 somehow.
mothers find ways where there are none. and one
of you sent me this powerful quote from elie wiesel:

"no heart is as whole as a broken heart, and i would
say no faith is as solid as a wounded faith."

well, we ALL qualify. we are all broken and all
wounded. "but the eyes of the Lord are on
those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in
His unfailing love." ps. 33:18.

p.s. a wonderful person surprised me with
a check that helped to cover the tires. before
i even knew that i really needed them.
dance on the journey. sing. find a way, somehow,
to celebrate even the worst of days.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

every night, before i go to sleep,
i open my lap-top to see how my
readers are doing. how God is
working in other's lives. and i
pray for each of you who comments.

and i thank Jesus that He is still the
Savior of every-day moments. the
Lord who intervenes in all our struggles.
and answers us when we cry out.

He is the author of victories won and
every miracle. God can stand before
any and all mountains in our lives,
and in one breath make them shake and
rumble and crash at our feet. all because
of Him, we can fight every battle, knowing
He is always on our team and working in
our behalf.

i see Jesus in every clean, morning sky.
in every baby born. in the roar of oceans,
and the sound of rushing waters. in the
quiet of the afternoon sun, and every
evening when the brightness and warmth
melt across the far horizon.

wherever you are, i believe
for you and all the seeming impossibilities
in your lives. stand before Him, and hand
Him every sorrow and pain and burden...
knowing that He cares. He can create
beauty out of ashes, and take the sand
and stone and erect mountains for us
to stand on and claim victory.

today, we can worship and praise the
God of the universe. and rest from all
our worries and cares. know that we
are one in Him. you and Jesus and i
and love.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

finding a new destination is, for me,
like walking through a South American
jungle. almost impossible. guaranteed
to get lost at least four times. calling out to people
at gas stations and biking down the sidewalk
or doing construction on the road. each one
tells me a different way. they all seem credible,
and i am always turning around to go the
opposite direction.

last night, i was determined, at 11 p.m., to
find the hospital where my friend's mother
was rushed into surgery. downtown stockton.
a very rough area. i drove right past the exit,
and through the next town before i realized i
had gotten lost. it made my bones ache.

following Jesus can often be like this. we set
out with such momentum. determined to let God
take over and teach us how to fly. we so want to
be perfect for Him, and really, everyone. but somehow,
we hear music and a band or the crush of rivers and
water-falls, and we lose our focus. our stability. our

i hate getting lost, don't you?
it is so hard to get back on track
to hear the oceans. . .

and feel the wind;
to laugh with a child, and speak about
love, God's love, to those who pass our way.

the comfort is that we are all broken.
we all need grace. we all have cracks and bruises.
and we forget to sing the songs and hear the laughter
and watch the sun glistening in tall trees and the wide sky.
but i'm not going to quit when i'm lost. and run away
when life gets hard. huh-uh. and you won't either
because we are God's army and victory is seeded in
the marrow of our bones and the blood-flow to the heart.

"He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be
His God and he will be my son...(daughter)." rev. 21:7

Thursday, February 16, 2012

are you a morning person?
i'm not. for me, it is like facing a
tornado and having to brace myself,
and walk through it to get out of bed.

not always.
when i ran marathons, i ran out of my
waterfront building at 5:30 every morning.
did ten miles, bathed, and was in my office
two floors below to work.

then i had babies. every mother knows that
you must be an early-to-rise person because
babies and toddlers like to wake up almost before
there is light on the horizon.

i think i'm not sure what to do with alot of my days.
either my resume' is really off-track. . . and i know i am
technically almost illiterate. . . or God just wants to unfold
life for me one day at a time because i never get a
response for jobs i apply for. i really loved the mentally-
disabled adolescents, and they seemed to love me,
but i was never contacted again. there are elderly
women who need someone to fix a couple meals,
and get them out doors to feel the warm sun on their
skin and dispense medications, but i apply and
never hear anything.

my children want me to finish my manuscript.
"mom, people love your books. that is the best
idea for you!" i smile. all the publishers wanted
me to change my style. they were interested, but
i needed to do a book with full pages; to be very
traditional. it stopped me dead in my tracks. i
don't know how to do that. maybe it's true that
my writing is from another decade.

back to mornings.
all i know is that i have to get up every morning,
and start my day with God, and see what He has
for me to do. who, in my neighborhood, needs just
a touch from Jesus, through me, today?

in my little devotional book by sarah young, i read
that Jesus wants us to come to Him with "all our
weaknesses, physical, emotional, and spiritual;
that He is our Shepherd, and we are to abandon
ourselves to Him."

such sweet words. so thoughtful and powerful.
Jesus is Jehovah Jireh, our Provider. He is Rapha,
our Healer. He is my Runner. even today, at 66,
i go to a gym. sweat-pants and cut-off tee-shirt.
i get on the eliptical (since i shattered my femur
two years ago). bow my head and ask my Runner,
my Partner, Jesus, to give me a good work-out
and talk to me. teach me. usually, i run for two
solid hours. and i know . . . .

that the next morning, i won't want to open
my eyes because i'm not sure of my purpose.
but i have four, sweet, wonderful sons, and they
are counting on me. and you all are out there,
maybe really struggling with something, too.

so, in the crack and noise of our earthly journey,
remember we stand together. run the rugged path
of life. we understand that with every victory and blessing,
there must also come sorrow and some hardship. but,
we NEVER, EVER give up. we trace God's Word with
our fingers every day, and we KNOW that what He says
is exactly what He IS: FAITHFUL to the end. my deep
love to you all.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Savior, like a Shepherd lead us.
much we need Thy tender care.
in thy pleasant pastures feed us.
for Thy use our souls prepares."

i received a seven-day pass to a 24 hr. fitness
with my friend, karen. i'm on the elliptical,
flying through the miles, when someone comes on
the loudspeaker system and announces my name had
been drawn as the winner of a 30-day pass. wow! a miracle.
i've gone almost every day, and pushed through two solid,
non-stop hours of running. sweat dripping off me and even
running down my nose. after 8 to 10 miles, the world looks
so much better.

maybe i won't drown financially.
maybe, somehow, God will make a path through an
impossible, tiny income that terrorizes me as i stare
at it like the enemy and i are in the war zone and my
only Hope is for Him to MAKE A WAY through this desert.

i pray for you a surprise today. to love yourself or be brave
enough to do the things that will re-generate your own self-
respect. go for it with Jesus, our invincible Warrior and
present help in needy, desperate times.

be the daniel of the lion's den. unfearful of the bears
and tigers of life. i have nothing to live on. and yesterday,
i finally had to give in and see the dentist because i was dealing
with a raw nerve somewhere. a cavity lying over a nerve. infected.
$1400 for the dentist and that amount for the one who is doing the
root canal. no choice. payments with care credit that doesn't
accrue interest the first six months. what happened to the first

many of you are or will lose your homes. maybe your jobs.
it is so much more fun to always have enough. well, Jehovah
Jireh, our Provider, only asks that we keep our eyes on Him.
never ever ever give up. always know God makes a way
through for us somehow. i love you and am in the battle, too.
let's pray for strength to live out for our children the simple
truth that Jesus will ALWAYS be enough. ann

Thursday, January 19, 2012

cross the bridge.
watch the ribbon of winding roads.
nail down your honor. your courage.
your self-respect. carve our souls
into instruments of Your love.

the clouds are bulging with rain.
the sky darkens and all there is
is a sliver of light. we are not fighting
each other, but the principalities and powers of
darkness. lace up your boots. stomp your feet.
march with the rhythm of Christ's glory. wave the
flags. join the parade.

let's sing and shout and throw our arms
toward the Heavens. put on your helmets of
salvation. march with the
Drummer. can you hear the roar
of millions following Him to the
celestial city? they are there. undaunted.

let the clouds burst and rain pour.
let the mud fill your (our) boots. no matter.
we are champions. warriors. and the bombshells
of life cannot squeeze our souls, or shrivel
our futures.

Jesus is our Victor.
He approached the woman at the well. He
asked for a drink and how many husbands she had.

"I don't have any husbands."

Jesus said, "yes. you have had five husbands
and are living with a man. this water will satisfy
you for awhile, but my water will fill you for life.

she told everyone she knew:
"you must come to the well and meet the Man
who told me everything about me."

Jesus does. He knows all the pieces of who we
are. He is the lead Warrior, and our Hope
and Peace. He loves us inspite of all we
aren't that we should be.

pour rain. pour,
and cover and cleanse us
from all our sins. You are our
Prince of peace. the only ONE who
can unravel our complexities; stop the
pounding of our hearts...and soothe our
fears with Your gracious presence of mercy.

shine, Glory, shine.
You are the One who holds us
together when we are frayed and falling
apart, and in desperate need of acceptance
and love.

cover us with your Blood.
in every vein and artery, and
our souls. cover us, Lord, cover us.

Friday, January 6, 2012

i don't know what you all did new year's eve
and new years, but i was at a friend's house
with two dogs, two cats, and my grandbaby, colben,
12 months old.

brandt and jasmine have a pit bull that, as of this moment,
has no manners when entering someone else's home. he
bounded through the door. headed straight for casey's
(golden retriever) food bowl, and as I watched in horror,
he ate every bite of casey's bowl of food. threw it all up,
and pooped the minute brandt put him on the back patio
so as to clean up the barf.

my friend was taking her mother somewhere for the
weekend, and i know she must have thought the house
would be levelled when she returned. i was close to
the same thoughts.

i put a leash on casey. bundled my dollbaby colben in
a white knit cap and tights and sweater...and locked
jr. (pitbull) out back, howling and barking, and we
headed to the park to throw balls for casey to retrieve.
hanging onto colben in his new little van shoes, and
casey's leash, we walked and played and came home.
colben never whined or wanted to be picked up.

before we even got close to the house, we could hear jr.
howling. i unleashed casey, and got jr., holding on with all
the strength i had. leashed him, took colben's hand, and
out the door we go to give jr. some fresh air. he would
wrap the leash around colben and me, and start to bound
off, about to decapitate the baby and me. he would
plant these giant, wet licks over colbens face, who would
close his eyes, and then continue walking. his little feet
moving with no effort.

two trips to the park,
and colben, with milk in his sippy cup, laid down and
did not move for almost three hours.

finally, after two hours, jr. began to calm down, and
he and casey bonded. buddies. everywhere they went,
side by side. all of us survived, and by the time brandt
and jasmine came for colben, all his clothes were clean.
the kitchen wiped down. the dog food up on a counter
where neither dog...nor colben...could eat it.

by the time karen returned the next day, you would never
know that we ALL ended up in her bad the night before
(i washed all her bedding), and casey had her water and
food back in place. she did not have any idea that colben
had been in all her kitchen drawers, or that jr. peed on
her office rug.

james 4:7
"submit yourself then to God.
resist the devil and he will flee from you."

2011 was such a difficult one for me. the devil
chased me everywhere. so...my Scripture verse
for the new year is in james. not only are we warriors,
GOD is the ultimate Warrior. and i'm done letting
the devil mess with me. i love you all. stand strong.
praise God in All circumstances. and i will speak
to you next week.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

i love Jesus.
as we approach 2012. our only real hope is
NOTHING but the Blood of Jesus,

pour it over us. in our hair and down into our souls. and
through our fingertips. let the Blood run into our rivers and
creeks, and the roaring oceans that seem to hold the universe
together. may the waters cleanse us and prepare us for
the good and the bad...the easy and the difficult...the losses and
the gains. and may NO ONE think that ANYTHING other than
the Blood of Jesus is our Song. our Hope. our Stay. i share
this beautiful, pristine and lovely writing of a man who grasped
the shining glory of God. God, Who holds all things in the palm of His hand.

God of all time,
Who makes all things new,
we bring before you the year now ending.
For life full and good.
for opportunities recognized and taken,
for love known and shared,
we thank you.

Where we have fallen short,
forgive us,
When we worry over what is past,
free us.

As we begin again
and take our first few steps into the future,
where nothing is safe and certain,
except You,
we ask for the courage of the wise men
who simply went and followed a star.
We ask for their wisdom,
in choosing to pursue the deepest truth,
not knowing where they would be led.
In the year to come, God of all time,
be our help and company.
Hold our hand as we journey onwards
and may Your dream of Shalom,
where all will be at peace,
be our guiding star.

Francis Brienen

My love and best for 2012. ann