Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"i'm not afraid of storms
for i am learning how to sail
my ship." louisa may alcott

long ago,
i decided if i didn't make friends with
pain, i would be a miserable person. a
new storm has always been brewing somewhere
on the periphery of my life.

in my latest book, seduced by success, i made
a BOLD confession. this specific experience
shattered me. a tsunami that shredded my peace
and terrified me.

at 27 yrs. of age,
i lost my virginity to a
married man.

i was dean of women on a university
campus outside boston. one of my superiors,
highly regarded by all, fell for me. he was married,
with children, and i was utterly unprepared for the
wiles of some men. jan, my sister, had just married,
and it made me feel very alone. vulnerable.

this man, twice my age, was so subtle in wooing
me that i was in before i realized it. and didn't know
how to get out.

with all my heart, i was pure
about Jesus. He, my Star and Savior, was
everything. until this, i had never stepped my
toe outside the line of spiritual responsibility.

beyond imagination,
a storm gust picked me up,
and blew me into a world of nightmares
and blurred truth beyond anything i had known.

i had saved myself for marriage, but in
one night, one moment, lost all the years
of purity. crossed a line that i could never

he told me we were different.
that the commandments against adultery
and fornication in the Bible did NOT
apply to us. he called us exceptions.

how could that be?!
what was truth? scrambled brain.
terrified contradictions that i literally
could not match up. i became completely

many nights,
i would get into my sport's car, and
drive through winding streets in my
neighborhood. screaming and screaming.
retching out the pain. the horror and shame
of genuinely being lost from truth.

tears streaming down my face.
a wound so deep. slicing the clean, pure
journey into shards of ragged aching
utter misery.

Jesus! Father God!
help me. show me truth.
Lord, i am lost.

it was a big night.
i was speaking to a packed
coliseum. a lean, simple form
sitting on a stool. telling my
story of one young woman plus
a great God and love, changing the

as soon as i closed the door
to my hotel room, i fell on my face
by the bed. it didn't matter who had
walked there. what had been spilled

nothing mattered.
nothing at all, except Jesus
coming and opening my eyes and heart.
a glorious night of blessing at the huge
auditorium, shrouded by a dark secret.

and even worse,
truly not knowing
the truth.

in time,
God led me out.
miraculously. the chains
of bondage removed. my soul
washed in God's glistening truth.

are you in the middle
of a storm? lost and shattered?

i promise you
that the Cross is far
more powerful than the lies
and deceit.

Jesus knew my heart.
He protected me. led me out.
confess and watch Him do the
same for you.

"there's room at the Cross
for you. there's room at the Cross
for you. though millions have come,
there's still room for one. yes,
there's room at the Cross for you."

"In the world you will have trouble, but be courageous-I have overcome the world!"
John 6:33

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Lord, i want to be a Christian,
in my heart. in my heart.
Lord, i want to be a Christian
in my heart."

can you hear the music?
the heart's earnest melody?
with longing; a purity that
pierces the darkness?

in my heart.
where only God sees.
full-figured. skinny.
those sitting on a park bench, or
flying via foot. running in the early
morning mist when the sun begins to
settle on the far horizon. stretching its warmth
up and down streets, in the
neighborhoods everywhere.

in my heart
where it REALLY matters.
where we leave judgement
by the side of the road. in God's hands.
set it apart. love,
with no exceptions. shining in our eyes.
we look at people, and they can see
compassion and kindness
in spite of our own frailties and imper-
fections and sin.

hey, brother, can i take your hand?
little boy, do you want to play catch?
popcorn and laughter and a million red
balloons. all because Jesus REALLY lives.
and He is in us. in our hearts where the TRUTH
really shows. can you catch the melody?

my oldest son turns 25 yrs. old.
will and i knew he was the most
beautiful baby in the nursery. and
the fact that he, at one month, rolled from
the middle of a king-sized bed, and fell off?
well, that classified him as a genius!

he, and my other three sons, melt my
cells and arteries and bones into gushing
pride. humility and gratitude. but do they
catch the rhythm of God's magnificent orchestra?
Lord, can they see my heart?
do they know, in the my quiet living out
of life, that YOU are my heart? you are ALL
that matters? do they see You in me?
in all the ways that count?

skin color means nothing
to me. social/economic status?
nothing. body size? nothing. nor
achievements can turn my head in a
different direction from the Song. oh,
i pray for my heart in this polluted, self-
absorbed world.

happy birthday, taylor.
welcome home from the university.
for the summer. catch that sweet,
clear music in the air. can you track
the rhythm of love that i've painted on
the walls? stamped the chords on the doors
so all can enjoy.

"Lord, i want to be a Christian
in my heart. in my heart."

that is ALL Jesus is about. His beethoven
of sorts. sit up. poise your instruments.
the common houses, on ordinary streets,
can tap to the beat of Christ's glorious
music of love.

come sing with me.
join the chorus.
we have work to do.
in all the heartache. all the
searching....for Someone...anyone...
to PLEASE play the song.
and tell them they will laugh again.
that joy comes in the morning.
and the shadows NEVER last

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Single Parenting Q & A with Ann Kiemel

Two young girls wrote in to Heritage Builders and wanted Ann to address specific questions in regards to ministering to children from single parent families.
Her responses are thought-provoking and worth posting for others to read.
Here are their questions:

Thanks so much for being willing to help, we really appreciate it. Just to give you some context, our main idea for ministering to the kids in single parent homes was to send out a small quarterly magazine.

What are some similar emotions that kids in single parent situations probably share? For example, would they have anger, insecurity, rejection, or a sense of being un-loved?

What is the best way that kids (in general) receive encouragement?

What kinds of things might offend kids in single parent situations? For example, do you think it would be offensive to offer them a magazine labeled specifically for kids in single parent homes, or to offer to make dinner for them one night so they can spend time with their parents?

Do you think we could show God's love to them better by sending out the magazine, having events like Bible studies or movie nights they can come to, or doing random acts of kindness for them?

Now about the magazine... Do you have any suggestions on content, a program we can use to put it together, making it look appealing, etc.?

Do you have any other advice for us about working with these kids, the magazine, etc.? Any will be appreciated.

Again, thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to help us. We really value any input that you can give us.

And Ann's response:

dear girls,

my name is ann, and i am a single
mom who works with heritage builders on this
subject specifically. i hope these answers
will help you.

there are many things i don't know.
what age, generally, are you talking about?
what is the social-economic status?
do you do this full-time? i was deeply
touched by your passion and genuine
love for these single-parent kids. you
must be very special, and make a great

1. best way for kids to receive encouragement?

love. love. love. pick them up (one at a time
if you can), and go get ice cream together.
listen to them talk. about their day. about
their moms or dads. about hard stuff. maybe
letting them have your phone numbers so they
can always feel free to talk.

2. similar emotions single-parent kids feel
vs. all the others who live in two-parent houses?

it is easier today than it once was. today,
every l in 2-3 families is single-parent, so
children don't feel obviously disjointed and
separate from all the others. my husband
died 8 yrs. ago with cancer. i especially...and
still do...dread Father's Day. it makes the loss
feel so obvious. BUT, so much depends on the
mothers. some women can't imagine being alone,
so they hook up with men. bring them into the
home. etc. look at these kids you work with.
BUILD BRIDGES to the single parent. as you
work with the children, do something for the

3. should we cook a special meal so they can
spend time with both parents?

yes. yes.
beautiful concept.

4.should we do Bible studies? random acts
of kindness?

again, tremendous ideas. not
knowing how old most your kids are, let me
tell you what i did when i was single, and out
to change the world for Jesus. i'd tell the guys,
who wanted to play on the basketball courts
in my neigborhood, "okay. no problem. BUT,
you have to spend 30 minutes with me in a
Bible study." i had all kinds of guys coming
to the Bible study, and then playing basket-
ball to their hearts' content. random acts of
kindness? you can never fail with this. just
be careful that you don't exhaust yourselves.
that you put into yourselves nurturing and rest and
love, or you will burn out.

5. the magazine?

i hope to meet you both
some day. you are so whole-hearted. creative
and passionate. a magazine is a BIG undertaking.
maybe once a month. each mag. should be clean
in its layout. simple to read. only three or four
pages. maybe featuring two kids an issue. pics
of them. what they love. then, it reinforces to each
one HOW special they are. most kids aren't into
alot of reading. school all day. homework to take
home. i know several women who produced beauti-
ful mags for kids, and eventually, the demand was
way down. not worth it for just a handful. how
about cards for the kids, from you? i'm a computer
idiot, but i receive cards, often. made, somehow,
online. OR, keeping a camera around, and each wk.
do a brief youtube with them in it.

6.clues to working with single-parent kids?

relate to them as if they are whole, and not
defective. divorce and death are not their fault.
what is each one's favorite candy or snack?
challenge them to DREAM BIG. to ask God
to plant a dream in them, and with all their
effort, and God's, never give up, and watch for
miracles. focus on them helping others. there
is so much healing when we give our lives away.
detach them from what they don't have, or can't
do. instead, help them to serve. to give. to
believe they can change the world. one person
at a time. our world is our neighborhood. i was
a youth director, once, out of college. big, wealthy
church. i told them God and i were going to
change the world, and if they wanted to join
me, they should meet me at the altar at 5:30 a.m.
on saturdays. prayer and breakfast (could be
fast food, with an allotment of how much they
can order).

girls, i wish my four sons (now, 20,21,23.24)
had had two gals like you in their lives. what a HUGE
difference it would have made. just remember: ask
God to make you creative. to give you ideas. and love
purely. YOU, both, ARE changing your world.
ann kiemel anderson
heritage builders

If you a have question and/or set of questions for Ann, feel free to email them to

Saturday, May 2, 2009

have you ever been
to an AA meeting?
or celebrate recovery,
the Christian counterpart?
once you have been,
you are never the same.

it is where Jesus visits.
the broken. the enslaved.
the struggling. the desperate.
we gather. in our yearning.
to touch Him. to crawl under
His arms of love, and feel His warmth
and compassion. to breathe the
same air. to inhale His grace. to find
communion with each other. where
it does not matter how we look. what
we are wearing. where we live.
we are grasping. reaching. lost in our
muddled lives for more of HIM.

on sunday mornings,
at church, it is eons away
from the huddled masses on the
outskirts. people drive to the
beautiful, steepled churches.
bound out of clean, shiny
cars. dressed in their best.
smiling. radiating vibrance and
enthusiasm. trying to exhibit
some level of perfection. sitting,
side by side. singing about God's
vast love. nodding at friends. ministers
with perfectly-knotted ties and boisterous
enthusiasm. i am sitting next to you.
but i don't know..not really..anything about
you. nor you, me. all of us too afraid
to share our darkness because then we
might feel rejected in the ONLY place
we are supposed to find unconditional

last night,
i went to celebrate recovery.
heard a young man tell how,
in seven years, he had never gone
a day without smoking pot. yet, here,
he found hope, and is four days clean.
wonder on his face. in his voice. then,
i went to the women's substance abuse
group. single mothers, wives, young
women who have fought battles all week.
somehow held on until they could come.
sit in a circle and talk. complete trust
that what is shared there, stays there.
no pretense. no compromise of truth.
joined, not by our social-economic status,
but by our brokenness and failure and

i'm ann. i'm an addict.

hi, ann.

some of you know i shattered my
femur. broke my hip, and cracked
my pelvis a yr. ago after a fall. i
had fourteen years of recovery under
my belt. my doctor gives me four
pain pills a day. i try to only take two
at night to sleep. i struggle. i
want to be pure for God. perfect.
yes, i want to be perfect for Him.
the Savior and Star of my life. but
it is so hard. am i wrong? right?

everyone listens. nods
in understanding on some level.
i've taken my darkness, and laid it
out in front of them. humbly.
with courage, dredged out of pain.

then, charity (not her real name) spoke.
i'm a mess. i'm 27. i can't help myself.
i'm smoking heroin, and really want to
shoot up so bad. i can tell i'm pregnant
again. i've had four kids so i know. my
boyfriend's abusive, but i don't know how
to live without him.

and she starts to weep.
stunning young woman.
externally flawless. but, shattered
of soul and spirit. grief and fear and
shame hanging on her. stooped over.
eyes downcast. combing her hair away
from her face with her fingers.
utterly destitute. terrified. i went over
and threw my arms around her. she buried
her head in my shoulder. i kissed her face.

i came home
knowing i had seen a
touch of Heaven. Jesus, the Savior
of the world, crucified for us all. and
though church on Sundays looks good
on the outside, behind every glistening
facade, there are secrets. troubles.
rebellious children. women who have had
abortions in their youth. moral failures.
all of us trying to hold it together, and
forgetting that Jesus came for us. not
to make us perfect. only HE is perfection.
but to take our hands, and
lead us down the road with grace and
tenderness. promising deliverance. giving

it's ALL about the Blood.
the Blood of Jesus. He was
wounded and scarred and hung for our
transgressions. drink from His Cup
today. "there is power..power..wonder-
working power in the Blood of the Lamb."