Saturday, April 28

"ho, everyone who is thirsty in spirit...."
ravaged by heat waves of doubt and
despair.  begging...longing to dip our
fingers of pain into cool waters.  our
scorched hope and dreams begging for
a Savior. 
rain, Lord, rain.
rain down our faces and shoulders
and into every dark place in our lives.
i'm thirsty, Lord.  in my soul.
down to my toes that take me running...
right beside you.  but  sometimes i don't
feel worthy.  heat rising off my hurt and pain
and disappointments.
"ho, everyone who is weary and sad..."
are you tired of the journey?  disappointment?
never expecting years and years for dreams to live.
sacrifice and pain and yes, even the death of the vision.
i've taught my children that dreams CANNOT live until
they first die.  and dying....utterly surrendering to God's will..
is one of the hardest tasks any human can plough through.
surrendering what we think the vision should be,
and allowing God to take over.  our very best plans
are counterfeit to what God has instore for us.
"come to the fountain,
there's fullness in Jesus....
ALL you are looking for,
come and be found.."
we're coming Lord.
running. stumbling. arms reaching out.
do you see us, Jesus?  hear the noise
of our feet slapping on the road behind you.?"
we are coming.  we are so human. You know
we are just dust.
"i will pour water on him that is thirsty.
i will pour floods upon the dry ground.
open your hearts to the gifts I am bringing.
all you are looking for, I can be found."
(an old hymn we sang on Sunday night
the Lord has EVERYTHING
we need to have our thirst quenched.
He sees the whole world, and waits for
us to run to Him.
here. take my hand. and you take the hand
next to you.  and we will pass it around so
the whole world knows.  rain, water, rain.

Friday, April 27

it was a large crowd.
a mass of people in a big auditorium.
i spoke a very simple message about Jesus and me
and love.  sharing stories about my neighborhood.
singing little songs.  everything about Jesus. glorifying Him.
oh, i am passionate about all God can do through
ordinary people of strong faith.  
Jesus is ALL about love.
the prostitute.  the blind man.  the fishermen.
the gay.  the struggling and broken and all
who cannot see any way out of the holes
they have fallen into.  usually by choice.
keep remembering this as i tell you
this story.  God's love can shake a mountain
and deliver people through the red sea.
i had signed books for almost two hours
afterward, and was getting weary.  each person
was very significant to me.  my "detail" there to
protect me took each of my arms, and told ALL the
others that i was done for the night.  i kept turning
around and saying, "i'm so sorry.."
as we started to turn a corner in the building, i turned
and saw a young woman.  completely gothic.  everything
black.  tattoos as i recall, and piercings.  can't remember
all the details, but she was definitely from a sub-culture.
i was instantly drawn toward her.  she was alone.  apart
from the rest of the book line.  and i knew it had taken ALOT
of courage for her to be standing there.
and  hugged her.  i said, "i love you...i really love you.
and so does Jesus."
and then, i was out. 
and that was years and years ago.
still single. ALOT of years ago.
last year,
i received a letter from this
girl's parents.  they had tried to find
me several years.  they wanted me to know
what had happened to their daughter since that night.
within a week, she was signing up for school.
she graduated from college.  married.  became a mother
of four.  and today, is commited to Jesus and working in
their church.
beautiful as a towering redwood.
precious as a newborn.
miraculous as crushing goliath
in one breath.  all and only what a
great, magnificent God can do.
the Blood of Jesus. running down
the ridges and alleys of our hearts.
covering and protecting our reckless
behavior, when we get lost.
the Blood that never runs dry. 

Thursday, April 26

i've complained so over my cell phone.
i'm on a plan with my two oldest children,
and we are breathless, waiting for july to
come so we can get better phones.
last week, i dropped my phone.
grabbed the back piece, put it back
together, and suddenly began to wonder
why i couldn't get the phone to turn on.
even after hours of charging.
my neighbor, who can fix just about anything,
took a look at it, and solemnly asked:
"ann, where is your battery?"
my battery!!
oh, no. i thanked God over and over,
knowing He can see it even now.  wherever
it is.  but i grabbed a little, almost worthless
phone i had in my drawer.   it tells me there
are seven messages, but refuses to help me find
them.  no texting.  no beautiful picture of my grandbaby.
But i've learned a very important lesson.
to STOP griping about my cell phone.  it is true.
we never appreciate anything until we lose it.
today, i got out of my car at the doctor's office. dropped
the phone.
grabbed this silly little phone, made sure the battery
was in it.  put the back on....but couldn't get it to
turn on!  i was standing there, so frustrated.  now
what?!!  i suddenly looked up, and a young guy
was sitting in the passenger-side front seat, playing
around with his cell phone.  right next to my car!
"hey, can you help me?  i don't know how
to turn this cell phone on?"
he took it.  smiled.
and instantly turned it on.
not a second of thought.  as
fast as a new york minute.
i have four sons who can do the same.
i thanked him so much, and started to
walk away, when it dawned on me that God
had orchestrated this very moment.  i went
back to his window.
"i know Jesus had you park right
here for me.  i don't know if you know Him,
but He sure knows you!  He hand-picked you
to help me."  and i smiled into his eyes.     he
said "wow"...and that was it.
remember, God is always putting
people in front of us because they need HIm.
keep watching.  alert.  tomorrow is another day
for us to keep helping Jesus change the world.
no encounter is too small.  God knows the whole
story, and all He asks is just for us to love others
and remind them that Jesus really lives.

Wednesday, April 25

that word "REMORSE" keeps coming to me.
it is more than 'i'm sorry'...not even close to
"well, i failed again'.  seven letters put together
that sort of punch you in the stomach.  make your
legs shake.  beef up your heart rate.  takes us to our
knees in the reality that we have failed God or another.
a disbelief that we are capable of humanly crafting
something that is going to do great harm to another,
or to a redemptive cause.  the deep, aching regret
that we cannot change what we've done.  can't dress it
up and color it like a rainbow and flick it aside and just
sigh and go on with life.
uh-uh.  no way.  not possible.
remorse can only transform us and heal us
and be redeemable if we fall on our faces and
confess to the only One, Jesus.  who knows ALL
the pieces.  the hidden lies.  the unseen ugliness.
the well-kept secrets that we'd almost rather die
than confess to another human being.
remorse can kill or transform us.
it all depends on what we do with it.
the Bible says we must confess to Jesus, and
then,  to another.  that is where the crunch comes.
it may take months or even years before we have the
courage to say it out-loud to another.  but i know
about courage.  it is a gift from God.  it is not something
we have to pull out of our inner core.  this was one of
the most amazing things i've learned in my Christian walk.
my father-in-law, dr. henry brandt, taught this to me.
remorse over an abortion/s?  a closet alcoholic?  em-
bezzeling someone's money?  wound the tender hearts of
our children in a very damaging way?  i think remorse
covers everything dirty and nasty and wrong, and we are
desperate for the Savior.  the Blood.  for forgiveness from
Jesus and others and yes, even for ourselves. this is often
the hardest part of all.
there is some remorse that isn't intentionally commited.
an earnest mother who forgets something in the house,
and leaves the children in the car for just a second,  but
something terrible happens.  and she can't fix it.
i am so  glad we have a Savior.
i can usually forgive anyone of almost anything
because i've messed up enough myself that i have
no business being critical of another. if you are living
with remorse, just remember that God can work GOOD out
of ANYTHING.  beauty out of ashes.  blessings unimaginable.
a time comes when we have to dust ourselves off.  wrap
the comfort of the Lord around our shoulders, and move on,
truly believing that there is hope and deliverance for us all.

Tuesday, April 24

"swing-low, sweet chariot.
coming for to carry you Home.
swing low,  sweet chariot....
coming for to carry you Home..."
as a little girl, i loved someone coming behind me
and pushing my swing up.  over and over.  higher and
higher.  the warm air. my pony-tail flying back and forth.
i felt more powerful.  could look down and see the sand.
or look up and feel the beeze and see the big, huge sky.
swing low.
drop to your knees
and put the side of your face
to the ground.  feel the fresh, cool earth
and listen.  listen for the sound of joy rising
up as tree-roots spread everywhere, and the
grass blades shoot higher, and the geraniums
who have learned to live through almost anything.
that is why i LOVE geraniums.
you can water them, or forget to.
rains can come and drown them, but
just as sure as the sun will come out again,
so will geraniums peek up from their muddy,
damp houses and sing again. 
i want to be like geraniums.
let the winds and hail and rain come.
let the world throw you a curve that makes
you  bend and fall to your knees and wonder
if you will ever rise again to laugh and sing and
grab another's hand.  and believe...
against all odds.
to breathe the clean air and
the rich, rich love of Jesus, and know
that, ALWAYS, His arm is NEVER too short.
nor His love.. nor His forgiveness.  He is
the Rock. and....
i can hear the chariots coming over and over
to pick up those who have been faithful. and carry
them Home.  maybe haven't been very perfect. maybe
messed up the prodigal son...but  the chariots
still come.  with the choirs singing very soft and low...
and carrying us through the Gates.  into the massive,
strong love of God.  can you hear the music?
listen.  please
be quiet enough to feel the miracles
of new people arriving at Heaven's door
again and again and again.  and know that,
some day, the chariots will be carrying us up.
and we will be in the lap of God forever and ever and
i love you all.   ann

Monday, April 23

chuck colson died over the week-end.
he was in president nixon's inner circle,
and went to prison for several years.
he found Jesus, and started what is, today, a
giant ministry in prisons.
will and i named our 3rd-born son 'colson'
after this great  an.  chuck wrote to colson multiple times,
and we discovered that we each had been named
for two daughters in an alabama family.  four children
who are accomplished violinists.  kiemel and kolson.
first names.  chuck and i loved that.
in a blink, Jesus called.
and chuck stepped from earth right into Heaven.
as if he was taking a walk in the park. 
or was asleep, and awakened in the arms of God.
he doesn't have to shave anymore.  or take vitamins.
or attend dinners that he wished he could just stay
home instead.  God gave chuck a window of HOW fallen
the world  is.  he lived in the cesspool of hollow and
evil and dark the world really is.  and Jesus knew He
could count on chuck to change his world when he
was released.  and change the world he did!! 
years ago,
he would ask me to speak at different
prisons.  that experience of time and time again,
standing and looking into all the faces that Jesus
truly loved and gave His life for are moments i'll
always treasure.    i was much younger, and the all-male
prisoners would start trying to distract me because
they didn't see women very often.  but my message
was pure.   i knew God's love was real; His salvation
able to cleanse  any and all.  i didn't smile.  i was
simple..  one woman with a giant God and the BLood
of Jesus that can deliver ANY and all.  and each time,
Jesus would quietly slip into the large rooms.  and it was
as if i could physically see Him touching one...and another...
and another.
of all the Christian leaders in the world, there was
NONE who encouraged me more.  who was ALWAYS
a faithful friend..  and utterly believed in me.  always.
and when he spoke publicly, i was spell-bound.  a servant
after God's own heart.  chuck colson....i am REALLY going to
miss you.  and i know that the millions you have impacted
will continue with his message and love.

Sunday, April 22

phones are beautiful, hand-designed
little gadgets that you can carry in the palm of
your hand.  or stick in your jean's pocket.
in california, we are not allowed to talk while
i was just beginning to punch the button and
call jan quickly when i saw the officer, across the
street, and i was messed up bad!! $300 for the ticket.
i'm still paying $25 a month on it. sighhh.
forgive me for whining yesterday.
i found a LITTLE, old telephone in a drawer,
and all it does is dial-out numbers, or pick up
calls.  i just have to have phone numbers close by.
i've been thinking
HOW much we miss things when
we lose them.  we jump out of beds.
run down the side-walk.  pick up our cell phones.
all the time, really not noticing how blessed we are.
in fact, i don't think ANY of us TRULY appreciated things
enough until we lose them.
it's time for ANOTHER mammogram?
another physical?  i what?!!! can't play in this
inning because i just got a little bruise on my
arm?  yes, whining and lazily frowning because we
can't do what this morning seemed so normal.
my husband used to say, and i don't think
it was original with him, but it impacted me:
if we lost EVERYTHING we have today, and suddenly,
tomorrow, get everything back,  wouldn't we enjoy
and be so much more grateful than we are today?!!!
when i can't find something,
i always start thanking God because He can see
EVERYTHING.   every rain drop.  every grain of sand.  and...
whatever it is that i feel certain i need.  though i didn't
think much about it a few minutes ago.
every swaying willow.
the sun soaking into our skin as if
it belongs there.  the tide rolling in, and
out.  a cool breeze.  when we REALLY need one.
to look into the faces of those we love, and always blown away
by all the beauty and magnificent  hearts they possess.
my children are such good sports.  they allow me to
write about all their struggles, rather than tell you about
all their achievements because they,too, have learned that
is what helps them and others.
be GLAD!
grab a hand here...and another behind you.
kick up your feet. dance. laugh hard, eyes shining
because life really is such a magnificent adventure.
and today, i join you in standing tall. looking everywhere and
letting your joy show.  let it roll around on your face. make happy
sillouettes against the back-drop of a clear sky or pouting, dark clouds.
that tomorrow........or this afternoon....
what we just expect...and enjoy..might never
be there again.  but then,
also remember that even in the deserts of our hearts,
God promises we will laugh again.  that He will ALWAYS
raise beauty out of ashes even when we've forgotten to
thank Him for what He has done this very moment.
i love you,  ann

Friday, April 20

the battery on my cell-phone is gone.
i thought the battery was dead, and plugged it in
to charge.  suddenly, my friend looked inside and saw
there was no battery.
what does a battery cost?
i don't even know.
can't call brock to let him
know, FOR SURE, that i had not
forgotten his birthday.
i'm filled with anxiety, yet i remember that Jesus
says not to worry; He is Sovereign!!
that there is power in praise.  i know that God
can see exactly where that battery is. 
please pray.
i know jan is desperate to get
me, too.  she just had her foot operated
on.  it's not that i have no friends, but everyone is
out on this warm, lush spring day.,
back to isiah 53: 4-6
"surely He took up our infirmities,
and carried our sorrows.
yet we considered Him stricken by God,
smitten by Him and afflicted.
He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was laid
upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.
we all, like sheep, have gone astray.
each of us has turned to his own way; and
the Lord has laid on Him the iniquitiy
of us all.
but He was pierced for our transgressions.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open His mouth;
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before his shearer is silent
so He did not open His mouth." 
i'm not sure about you,
but these are some of the most beautifully-crafted
words i have ever read.  who...?  any? know someone
who lived out his life as has the Lamb of God??!!
i want to be like Him.
to sing a thousand songs for Him.
live a thousand lives for His glory.
march to the drum-roll with Him.   but,
i know, for sure, as a flawed human, that even
with all the gusto and choir music and nudging of my
fellow-warriors, i won't be able to.
this is the story
of the Divine.
of a crown of thorns on His head.
of a "heart of sorrow, acquainted with
grief."  so i bow my head.
and worship Him.
Christ, the Savior of the world.

Tuesday, April 17

it's been a busy day.
full of unexpected complications.
but i know i am to praise God for His

sunday night, i was drawn to isaiah 53.
find a Bible. dig for one. go to any church
close by and ASK if they will give you one.
call a friend. you HAVE to have a Bible to
capture, for me, the most moving, beautiful,
unveiling of Jesus and His life BEFORE He
was even born of mary.

look in the index of the Bible.
take your finger and rub it along the list of
books until you find isaiah. turn to the page
listed. please. you have to. you cannot miss this.
my favorite book in the entire Bible.

it haunts me. moves me to tears. the
superficiality is torn from the walls of my sometimes
wayward heart. oh, the world has it all wrong. the
Christian arena is, itself, falling prey to the luscious lies
of secularism, and we don't even seem to notice. so subtle
are the ways we are pulled in.

i'm just going to quote a piece of it today. more later.
Isaiah 53:2-3:

"He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like the root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him.
nothing in His appearance that we
should desire Him.
He was despised and rejected by men.
a man of sorrow and familiar with suffering.
like one from whom men hide their faces.
He was despised, and we esteemed Him not."

everything the world celebrates ... and most Christians, too,
is for us to look as beautiful as we can. do what it means,
by all costs, to be accepted and loved. the very thought
of being despised horrifies us.

but Jesus accepted a rejection that none of us
can imagine. lived with suffering and sorrow.
we, we race from such things befalling
us. we protect ourselves and our children at all

"a tender shoot...
and a root out of dry ground...."

glory! glory!
hallelujah for the Lamb.

thank you for all the touching comments.
for standing with me. travelling this road.
running next to the THE Runner. flow, grace, flow.
purge us of worldly views. cover world, cover.
that our hearts will not be diverted from the scrubbed-
clean beauty of the Savior of the world.

Monday, April 16

i sinned yesterday.
and probably will before today is over.
my friend arises very early to pray, and....
first, she praises God.  then confesses yesterday's sins.
so here i am.  confessing to you that
i seem to keep sinning in word, thought, or deed.
over and over and over.
i run to Jesus.  i don't usually
wait until tomorrow morning.
so anxious to be back in perfect
communion with the Lord.
there were many things i had to accomplish
yesterday.  the bank.  the dry cleaners (mainly to hug
my korean friend). getting my hair high-lighted.  do another
blog, etc.  my friend, who is a pill addict, kept calling me
and totally forgetting that she had done it ten minutes ago.
and would start talking nonsense that i couldn't even understand.
finally, i lost it.
"what  have you taken?
i hate when we can't really talk.
i never know if you are going to be
on or off re: your pills.  you can sound
so good and energized and normal for two or
three days, and then, out of nowhere, you crash
back into the flooded confusions, and i,
somehow, crash with you."
"and  i get so frustrated!!"
then, God started reminding me of ALL the times,
when i was using, and didn't make sense, i'm sure,
to others who called me.  and ended up so frustrated
over me.  i'm amazed friends stuck with me.  where was
my humility and compassion?!
i call my friend, and i humbly ask her to forgive me.
confessing my own failures in the past when my addiction
was in full-swing.  i tell my friend HOW much i love her.
and we start mending the bridge where it has been
compromised between us.  over and over and over again.
confession is good for the soul, Jesus says.
if God brings something to mind, you, too, can run
and make peace.  the sun will shine again. the
choirs will start singing.  you will hear the swell
of voices who have also been delivered again and
again and again. 
yesterday, i sinned.
please, Lord, make my heart right
with You.

Sunday, April 15

it comes as a whisper.
a very quiet urging.  a calling.
relentless with love.  just think of
how beautiful it is to live with relentless love
from Jesus.  moving through.  always travelling with
us. that whispering. 
"come, follow Me..."
"count the cost...."
"love Me more than your father or your mother.
 more than anything."
"there's room at the Cross.."
"confess your sins..."
"no one is without one."
"when you do it to the least of these...."
"do not despise this small beginning..."
"trust Me with alll your heart..."
"fear not...."
"all things work for good..."
"He is faithful..."
i read a man's words:
"i'd rather be a the House of God..."
to put someone's hand on the latch that opens the
door for Jesus to come in.
there's the little, petite dry cleaning lady who speaks in
halting english.  she's korean i think.  hugs me....
"i am so happy when you happy...."
can she understand my English?  is she buddhist?
i just keep loving her.  asking God to show me how to
help her open the door.  i kiss her each time.
my son's best friend's mother in dallas.
i gave her "Jesus Calling".  she reads with her
coffee every morning.  when she started, she sold
two cars that day.  two cars the next day.  and two the day after.
Jesus is whispering.  patiently, quieting knocking.
i love my world.  i love those around me.  i want them to
know Jesus, too.  i'm dreaming.  believing.  listening.  watching.
are you?  are you seeking the lost?  are you smiling..such a small,
simple gesture.  such a burst of love for someone.  grabbing
someone's hand.  squeezing it.  throwing your arms around someone.
seeing they are troubled.  saying, "i know it is going to be okay.  whatever
it is, it is going to be okay...."
let's keep running with Jesus.  holding on to every thread of hope
we can.  trusting.  bowing.  yearning.  more of Jesus.  more of Jesus.
this is our earnest plea.

Saturday, April 14

before i finish my thoughts on taylor, i wanted
to remind us all that we will ALWAYS fall short
of the "glory of God." Jesus says that no one,
not even one of us on this earth, is righteous.
that no one has done good.  not a man on earth
who does not sin.
this should humble the self-righteous, and encourage
those who feel they fall way short of God's goodness.
as parents or students or business employed or
even queens and kings are of any good except through
the love and compassion of God.  and yes, of course,
the Blood.  Christ's Blood that spilled from Him into
every crevice and wound and sin...and continues to
this very day. 
"covered by the Blood, we are covered
by the Blood..our sins are all covered by the Blood..
our iniquities so vast have been blotted out at last...
our sins are ALL covered by the Blood."  (old gospel hymn) 
i see so much of taylor's birth mom in him. all the
best pieces.  when he was old-enough to understand,
and met his birth mom (she had been with him often
as he grew), i believe for the first time, taylor understood
himself.  it was a precious moment for me.  like robin, he
is quiet.  definitely not a show-off.  tentative.  and i've learned
that he is always way down the road from me in my thinking.
taylor bites his nails.  have you noticed all the first-born people
around you who bite their nails?  i have.  it makes perfect
sense to me.  back to the pressure and expectation we tend
to place on our first-borns because we are ignorant and foolish
and proud.  at least that is true of will and me.
when he was a newborn, i would lay him on my bed,
and read the Bible out-loud to him.  somehow, i felt that if
i could just plant the seeds of God's vast love into taylor's
tiny, little being that he would ALWAYS feel the gentle love
of God.
what taylor is today is completely different than what he was
as a little boy.  or even as a teenager.  he's developed a voice.
where he is confident and free to talk and express and teach and
be funny.  when he was applying for a scholarship back east, he
had to write an essay.  he spent hours on this essay while i just
paced and prayed.  he was scientific and mathematical and never
believed at that time that he could write.  however, i had seen his
school work and i knew it was in him.  finally, after midnight, he
came in and asked me what i thought he had chosen to write
about.  i called it right, and he immediately handed me  his
masterpiece.  i still have it.
eventually, taylor walked away from full scholarships to several
schools.  moved to san diego (with brock at his side), and spent
several months trying to get a job.  it was not easy, but he finally
was hired by a publishing company, and was in charge of all
those at computers.  the bosses had him host the big guys from
the east when they came west, and taylor got the idea to send a
letter about himself and the company; a fun thing.  clever.  every
couple of months.  when he learned that he could do life, he applied and....
he was accepted into cal.state univ. monterey bay.  the school he
really wanted to go to.  in the middle of this journey, he changed his
major from marine biology to film.  with his specialty in editing.
he has a full-time job at a film company in monterey, and goes to
school full-time.  like my other three sons, he has moments of
doubt about himself, but inspite of will's and my faults, he grew
up to be a lion.  bold and strong.  it took  losses and some
pain for taylor to sort out the pieces of himself, but he and God
did it. 
i spent many, many, many hours holding and cuddling my sons.
i kissed them and celebrated them and to this day, lie flat on my
face by my bed, and cry out to God for them.  we rode bikes together
and played in made-up forts in the back yard and collected pets and i
baked more sweet things than i did good, pure nourishment.
don't be hard on yourselves as parents.
remember: no one is good.  no one is without sin.
not a single man or woman on this earth.  we do the best
we can as parents, and we always remember that unconditional
LOVE is all there is and all there was and all there will ever be. and
tied onto that is truth. pure and unsullied and holy.  amen.  amen.