Friday, March 30

before i finish telling you about brock,
i want to say something else to those who are reading this.

if you've longed for a baby, and can't seem to conceive,
and tried the adoption route, and that, too, seems like a dead-end,
i just want to remind you that God is NOT far away. He always has
the perfect plan. the best we can think of is counterfeit to what God
has. if there is a baby in the world, and it is God's baby for you, i
can promise you that God will get that baby to you. His network
of connections is vast and miraculous, and He can put things together
as no one else can. don't lose heart!

okay, back to my amazing son.
i was on a twelve-day spkg. trip, and though he was 16, he still loved
travelling with me (they all have). i was in mcpherson, ks. at a college
auditorium, when i got on stage, and had been introduced to speak.
i asked the crowd if they would like to meet my incredible, second-born son.

brock came up to the stage. i felt so proud. suddenly i noticed a very low-
grade murmuring. " oh', i address everyone, "you are saying to yourselves that
this isn't what you'd expect a son of mine to look like this."

"i just love brock's look. the little chain around his neck. the
spiked bracelet. the dark-blue color in his hair. i think he's beautiful,
and i love the individuality of my children." one of the absolute rules
in our house was that there would be NO tattoos until they lived on their
own, and paid for them. praying, with time, that would stall any errational
ideas. smile.

we had our arms around each other. he is 6'3". he looked like a band
player, and i knew his heart. i knew he wanted to play for the Lord. to
meet other kids and help them with their issues. brock went down and sat,
and i proceeded to deliver my speech. at the close, i noticed that people
were lined up clear around the auditorium. a few had books for me to sign,
but most of these people were parents. with tears in their eyes, they repeatedly
told me what i had done to shift their views of how a teenage son or daughter
looks. that the outward is only the small piece of the inside. i've always
worked on the hearts of my sons. for me, that is where the "issues of life"
are settled. at least the Bible expresses this.

the next morning, i had a quick breakfast with the group of women who
brought me to their community. one started crying, she said,
"when i was tucking my 9 yr. old into bed last night, he said, "mom, when
i get older, can i look just like brock?!"

brock is utterly honest. sweet. kind. very winsome and beautiful, i think.
he's extremely intuitive. he no longer plays for the c.s. (initials are
more comforting when saying the name of the band) band. but
they were a very prominent band, and i decided it was God's sense of humor
to make brock's dream live those two or three years as a bass player. he
touched alot of kids. today, he works for bank of america, and yes, has a band.
but he's been broken by his band not doing better, and flew home to spend
12 days or so with me.

"brock, remember a dream has to die before it can live. always remember
this. that is why so many lose heart before God's plans are all wrapped up
together." there are so many wonderful things i could say to display his
true heart, but not enough space or time. i'm so excited to be with him.
God took the twins and gave us brock. from the moment he was born, i
absolutely knew this was our baby. God always works things out magnificently!
yes, he's my morning sky and afternoon sun. always. forever.

Thursday, March 29

i'd like to tell you about each of my sons.
just so you'll know how amazing
God is. my second-oldest is brock. 26yrs. old.
his middle name is kiemel, and he was born just
weeks after i had miscarried twins.

wow! what a gift he is to my life, and to his brothers and
those around him. when he was born, will and i were in
the delivery room. his birth mom and i weeping. such a gift.
so much joy. a sense of loss. i still remember when i took
his birth mother to the airport to fly home (from the south).
we sat in the car, by the curb, and wept and hugged and i
didn't know who i loved more: my brand-new son or his birth
mother. she and i share something no one else in the world does:
we are both his mother.

in two days, this beautiful son of mine
is flying me in to dallas on virgin air. "mom, i know
it is the one airline you've never flown on!" i can't wait.
he is my only one who lives outside california. five days
to laugh and remember and share and be. five days for
him to teach me how to use my new ipod (given as a gift).
he is brilliant, and i'm surely grateful because i am learning-
disabled around technical devices (even computers!).

brock and i are very close.
i remember sitting on the floor in the laundry room, folding
clothes, when he came in from his day at kindergarten.
"mommy, someone made me feel bad today. he said he
didn't like my shoes."

"well, that must have made you feel terrible. darling, everything
about you is beautiful and amazing and strong. everything!"

i've always told my children to let God put a dream in their hearts,
and to never let go until the dream lives. that it will take all of God and
all of them, and to never, ever,,, ever give up.

brock and i are alot alike. i remember one night, about
three a.m., when the over-head light in my bedroom flipped on.
there stood 16 yr. old brock.

"honey, is there something wrong?"
he fell across my bed and told me we needed to talk.

"mom, once a week i go outside and walk around and
smoke a cigarette. i don't know why, buy it just helps me. but
i can't keep doing this without you knowing."

i reminded him they are very addictive, although i have never
smoked one. i am an addict in recovery so i know HOW hard it is
to give something up. "honey, are you sure about this?"
yes, he was. that is the kind of son he is. he confides just about
everything in me. everything! and i listen. and always know how to pray.
i don't give lectures. i don't think they are effective at a certain age, if ever.

brock's dream is to travel the world in a good band.
he's been passionate about this for many, many years.
he moved to san diego with taylor (9mos. older),,, and was chosen
to play bass in a BIG punk band. please don't disintegrate like i did when he
told me the name of this band: cheap sex! i was horrified. "honey, this
is NOT a Christian example, and i know how you love the Lord."
" i know, mom, but they just chose that name to gain attention."

i'll finish my story about brock tomorrow. please hold him in your hearts.
he's my morning sun and afternoon sky. my sons are everything to me!

Wednesday, March 28

...adoption can be so beautiful and special.

how is it that rivers chase the oceans
and the rising sun cannot be pushed back under
the horizon?  do we really understand that the color
of someone's skin means nothing about who we  are...or what our potential
is?  scrub...slather all the crazy, sick, scary conceptions we all, at times,
tend to come up with.  like birth moms don't care about their babies, and that
adoptive parents can't love the same as babies pushed out of our own wombs.

throw the stars across the skies.  breathe love so pure that the broken and
lost and sad souls will feel the very Light of Jesus as He sweeps down and
kisses away the dark corners of our hearts. until we laugh out loud. and skip and
throw balls and roll in the warm grass.

adoption can be so beautiful and special.

for will and me, it has been the BEST of everything.
taylor's birth mother was getting married four years ago.
though she has three sisters, she asked me to be her matron of honor.
all the birth mothers flew in, and in one, large house, the birth moms',
whose sons are brothers...and the four boys...and i, the adoptive  mother
laughed and ate and participated in the wedding.  hours all by ourselves.
jan was there, too.

adoption is about trust and openness and selflessness and beauty.
all of us side-by-side.  if you've been closed, adoptive parents, i challenge
you to tear away the fear and push the borders back. and let the rest of
the family in. push the windows up.  let love blow in.  seek and search, if you must,
to help find the birth moms.  let all terror fall away.

adoption can be so beautiful and special.

Tuesday, March 27

adoption can be so beautiful and special.

things that everyone should know about adoption:

1.  every child deserves to know where each one has come from.

2.  no birth mother ever gives her baby away without  the purest,
almost divine sense of love; that her baby deserves something better.
such a difficult path.  when the young woman is at her weakest
emotionally and physically. 

3.  couples who pray and try every avenue for a baby (and it is NOT
easy to get a newborn today!) should clearly understand what the
gift of a baby really means.   they should be as selflless in their love
of the birth mother as she was when she handed over the priceless
gift of life.  adoptive couples tend to be afraid. that their child will
want to go back to his/her birth mother.  NOT TRUE.   that if they send
pictures of the baby, they shouldn't be the really beautiful ones
because, for sure, the birth mother will rush in and demand the
baby back.  NOT true.  it will make the birth mother so proud.

4.  taylor's partner in this project is in college, adopted, and still doesn't
have any idea where her birth parents are.  she has been interviewing
other students who have no knowledge, either,  alot of homes make it a
silent part of any communication.  why should anything so beautiful and
priceless be like a big secret?  i'm talking about thousands and thousands
of people in the world  who long to just ask normal questions  about their
birth families. 

5.  i tried to express to each of my  sons the pieces of their birth mothers
that i saw in them from their earliest years.

"brock, you laugh just like cathie, your birth mom! i love her for
giving you to me to be your mommy!"

"brandt, your eyes shine just like beth's.  i look at you and see her!
 isn't that fun?!"

"colson, you have the same, exact, facial features as sandy.  i can see
her look at me or you, and you at her...or someone else..and i can't BELIEVE
that all your expressions are so alike.  i just love that, colson."
"taylor, you have auburn hair just like robin.  and i've never met a red-head
 that isn't really smart.  i know robin and you are.  aunt jan says she's never
seen a 2 yr.old who colors inside all the lines like you did!"

 adoption can be so beautiful and special.

… more about this beauty tomorrow.

Monday, March 26

my oldest child , taylor, is almost done with a
degree in film at cal. state, monterey bay.
at the end of the year, each student must create
a film....or collaborate ...on one with one or more
others.  taylor's love is editing, so he's decided
to hook up with a girl who is making the entire
focus of the film about adoption.

well, that just happens to be taylor's life story
because his birth mother delivered him (we were there)
and laid him in my arms at 24hrs. old.

i had gone in to speak to robin first.
"don't feel you can't turn back.  that it's too late, robin.
will and i will pack all his beautiful , little baby clothes
and send you  home with taylor in your  arms."

and we meant it.
God's best in all our lives happens when we all
keep everything we really love and hold dear in open hands.

so. robin chose the hardest path. to relinquish.
with tears streaming down her face and mine, she
tightened the little blanket around  taylor, and held him up to me.
she said ,"i carried him just for you!"

at that moment,
everything  flipped in my thinking.
if robin could give me her most-prized possession,
i chose to also give the baby back in the most-loving way i knew:
robin would always be a part of taylor's life.  at birthdays and
well....anytime it worked out.  never would my son have to go on
an intense search for his birth mother; nor she with him.
i call it OPEN ADOPTION.  God gave us three more babies.
i was the labor coach with each one, and we were both in the
delivery room when the babies' popped their beautiful, little ,brand
new faces into the world.   today, among the four birth mothers and
our four sons and us, we are still building memories.  we are all
devoted to each other.  the family is BIG and glorious.  a story
about miracles. 

the whole world needs to know what
adoption is all about; and what makes open adoption
selfless on every side?  that's for tomorrow!

Thursday, March 22

jump into a shallow, cool pond
on a very hot day....and feel the
cold splash onto your arms and in your hair. 

feel the excitement of living. of looking at
the wide sky and knowing there is enough
to cover all of us.

fear not!  Jesus promises.  He is strong,
strong?! what does it mean to be strong?
to not be afraid?  to breathe against a massive
mountain, and listen to it rumble?  to kick a tree stump
and see it bend and crumble?

Jesus is our Song!
our music.  can you even hear
the choirs, with His resident roar of music
that blends in with all the others.

it comes to me that i need MORE music..
a strong Voice that disarms all my doubts.

oh, Jesus, come, come.  Jesus come!
can i rest with You, Lord?  lean into the folds
of your dusty robes? 

let go.
run from the screaming doubts.
God's arm is NEVER too short.
so i reach.  i grab.  i am saved.

i love you, Jesus.
i am Yours.
You hear me, right, God?!
that i'm YOURS!!

you got me, Lord.  everything i am
and all that i'm not.  build me.  make me
what you want me to be. i'm counting on You, Jesus.

Wednesday, March 21

jan and i sitting at a fancy, little
pastry place that we love.

jan looked at me, and asked,
"what does it mean to be my brother's keeper?"
earlier, i noticed a man in a wheel-chair.
a double amputee. he asked me for something to
eat. not for money, but food.

the boss, standing there, told me not to pay any
attention; just ignore him. not knowing, really, what to do, i
walked back to my loft, with that question pounding in my mind.

jan drove over for a visit, and we returned to the pastry
place, hoping we might find the disabled man. he was
no where in sight. jan left a piece of paper with her name
and phone number in case that man, or any really needy person,
was hungry. feed the poor, she instructed.

i ran over to the chinese take-out for our dinner.
we lived in modesto, and my two youngest were still
in high school. while i waited, an asian family walked
in close to where i was standing. is there any food we can
have? they asked. they were immediately escorted out, and
i was stunned. broken-hearted.

i counted what cash i had,
and as they handed me my food, i
tucked $50 into their hands, and asked them
to PROMISE me that if that family came again, they would
feed them as much food as they needed, and i would reimburse
what, if any, more was needed.

we ARE others' keepers . if someone is hungry or naked or weak,
we are Jesus to them. Jesus helps us know those moments.
we are not to walk away. show us, Jesus. speak to us. and
may we be listening and watching.

Friday, March 16

a funny story that I told my sister jan ...

i was at karen's house,
taking care of her golden retriever while
she was going to be gone for the week-end.

at some point, my youngest son and his wife wanted
to get away, and wondered if i would keep their baby
(he walks on water at 13 casually
asked if i would keep junior, their still quite young pit
bull. after all, he would have a playmate with casey,
the mild, calm golden retriever.

well, karen was kind enough to say, "sure".
not having any idea of junior's disposition.
but i did, and doubts filled my mind.

the door bell rang, and opening the door,
there stood brandt and jasmine and colben....with junior.

junior bounded in, slipping and sliding on all fours across
an all-wood floor with no traction, and instinctually flew
between our legs and headed right to casey's food bowl.
we just stood there horrified.

jan, you would have been so embarrassed.
junior proceeded to enhale an entire bowl of the golden
retriever's food for the day. our mouths were gaping open,
trying to process all this. he turned, suddenly, and regurgitated
the entire meal, and went outside and pooped right out side the
door on the patio.

we were horrified.
it was not our home.
karen hadn't even met my youngest son before.
and he and jasmine were grabbing rags and paper towels,
rushing in trying to clean up the mess.
needless to say, junior is not invited back to my house or
karen's or anyone else's.

jan, sometimes this is how we live life, don't you think?
slipping and sliding and completely out-of-cpntrol.

my sister and i sat and laughed and laughed.
this is kind of a picture of life, jan said.
no self-control. no regard for the damage we've left
behind. we all, at times, get ahead of God. and leave
a trail of catastrophe without apologizing or even knowing
the damage we've done.

slow down.
let God calm our pace,
and be in control instead of us.

Wednesday, March 14

i've read your comments.
been thinking of all of you out there who love
me and care about me and encourage me.
just always know that it means SO MUCH to me.
your love to me,
and mine to my neighbors.
we must keep passing it along.

EVERY day, Jesus has a plan for us.
He is going to put people right in front of
our faces, and we need to be ready to speak
whatever words God guides us to share.

i was in panera's...and ordered
a pastry (sweets are ALWAYS my favorite!!).
a very dear friend sent me some gift cards, and i
was trying to find one in my purse. the girl behind
the counter was smiiling. waiting. with people lined
up behind me. finally...

i just looked at her, and said,
"every time i can't find something, i start
thanking Jesus because He sees everything, and He
knows exactly where to find what i'm missing."

at that moment, i pulled out the gift card.
i was just ann. human and ordinary and imperfect...
but God's. and i had the opportunity to just speak
the name of Jesus. my favorite thing to do.

you and Jesus and i and love.
that really IS all there is. we either build
bridges or walls with everyone we meet.
we don't need to worry where our words go.
we just need to speak them at those
God-ordained moments. and i promise you that i have
lived long-enough (66yrs.!) to know that God plants our
loving words in others' hearts, and they don't forget!

unconditional love.
it is all Jesus really asks us to do if we are
following Him. where in the world did judgement and piety
and negativity and criticism fall into so many hearts that belong
to Jesus?

my husband would consistently say he was a pharisee.
i did not see him change until five days before he died.
suddenly, he really loved the children and me.
i mean, in a way we could understand.
the veil was lifted. he stopped bossing us around.

he held the children's hands and spoke beautiful words to each of them.
he asked me to forgive him for all the years he didn't really love me..
when i had been God's answer to his prayers.
marriage is the hardest thing either of us had ever committed to.

ultimately, it wasn't about him
loving us, but accepting each of us. will was the boss. and i was
always wanting to bake brownies at bedtime for the boys.
and the boys?
they were just the sweetest, brightest, most loving children.ever...
but they were children.

this is all i can tell you today.
i really try to unveil to you all the pieces of my heart and life,
just so you will know you are not alone.
that life is hard, but Jesus is beautiful. and His Blood
covers everything.
and i KNOW that will would be disappointed
in me if i didn't tell you his story so you could travel a different path.
the children and i are better than we've ever been.
all because of Jesus.

jan is still in remission, and is going to start a "group"
for women in downtown sacramento. called "girlfriends".
i like this idea, don't you? jan trying to change her world
where she is. this is what Jesus is all about.

Tuesday, March 13

i've been thinking about the church.
you know. Jesus and the church.
there are SO many people that just can't
find unconditional love and acceptance at
the very place where God's love should feel
the most real and accepting.

i know all about sunday mornings.
getting everyone into the car. maybe arguing
all the way there. but we pull up. have tried to
look our very best. and the children, too. and
we jump out of the car, everyone smiling. greeting
others as we walk in. but...

we sit side-by-side.
we may know those around us casually, but we don't usually
REALLY know their dark places and failures. and
they certainly don't know ours. we all sing glorious
hymns. the pastor's tie is tied just right.

he tells us beautiful stories about Jesus. His vast
love and deliverance. and then we go home. i haven't
told you what is REALLY going on in me nor have you
shared your private agonies and addictions and yearnings.

this bothers me. i mean it
REALLY upsets me. gays don't fit in.
those whose businesses are crashing don't
often feel the most acceptance inside church doors.
parents of rebellious children are usually criticized.
john's drinking problem is a BIG secret. and i always
wonder why those who are weak and broken and messed
up and sliding accross acceptable lines aren't the ones
inside church doors. where they should feel pure

i mean,
Jesus died for the broken. the shattered. the prostitutes
and gamblers. He died for SINNERS. but Christians
work very hard to look together and successful and happy
and perfect. i know. because i tried to for a very long
time. i was terrified that if you really knew me you would
reject me, and then where would i be?

when i went in to recovery for pain-pill addiction, i was
amazed. we would be escorted to AA meetings where
men and women would confess all their ugly failures...
and everyone listened. offered complete support. promised
confidentiality. and i did the same.

come, Jesus, come.
run, rivers, run.
rain pour down and wash us.
and may every single drop of CHrist's
Blood purge us of all our superficialities and
judgements. oh, precious Blood of Jesus, redeem
us so we can help you change the world. You and us
and love.making clean the dirt that contaminates our
thinking and hearts. flow, Blood, flow. amen. amen.

Saturday, March 10

"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

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

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

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 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

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

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.