Tuesday, March 13, 2012

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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.