Thursday, May 31

i fell into two coma's, back - to-back
before entering rehab. it took both of
these to make me understand i had a
problem. and, every day,

we had to say our names and what we
were: addicts or alcoholics or both. several
times a day. i hated this routine bacause i only
believed i had become dependant on pain pills.
i was NOT an addict.

i realized everyone drank coffee and smoked.
i did neither. i was freezing and losing weight
i didn't have to lose. i smelled nicotine in the
carpets and the food and clothes and hair.
i have never smoked one cigarette in my life,
so the pungent odor gave me extreme nausea.

my body ached. hurt so badly. all over.
i didn;t sleep for 12 days. took at least
three hot baths a night just to get through them.
my higher power was Jesus. for sure! absolutely!!!
but almost all others were like foreign gods.
stones and crystals and electricity.

everyone had it out for me in group therapy.
they REALLY got to my core one day when
they said they felt sorry for my children because
i was such a "bad-ass" mother. a gutteral
scream rose from my deep, inner core, and
i was left gasping, in tears, to keep breathing.

let's wrap this up tomorrow....

Wednesday, May 30

the children were so sweet. they
loved california. everything looked brand
new compared to chicago where will and i and
the children lived.

without herb and dona, nothing would
have changed. they loved will, but took one
look at me, and knew something drastic was
happening in our family. herb called will,
and simply told him they had sent us somewhere
and would not reveal farther than this. to this day,
they are still some of my closest friends. because
of them, i am here today.

i had a few pills in my purse.
pain pills. the holiday was finally
behind us. and jan, my twin sister, flew out
to take care of the boys while i went into a detox/rehab.
center. a nice one. every penny put on the table
by herb and dona.

i walked into rehab. and absolutely knew God had
put me here, and i wouldn't walk out until i was free.
there were no options for me. i was now a single
mother (legally separated), and if i REALLY loved
them the way they deserved, my feet had to be on the
ground and my mind clear. they deserved everything good.

most addicts and alcoholics have wandered in and out
of these places, and knew the routine. this was brand new
for me. when the nurse told me i needed the "BIG BOOK",
i looked at her with a frown on my face.

"you mean the Bible"?
"no. you know. the BIG book!"

it took me a week to figure that out. i mean, i was
in japan or china or russia because no one spoke

more tomorrow. thank you for your responses and love!

Tuesday, May 29

it was 1996.
on this week-end.
that my four sons and i,
sent by some of my dearest
friends, herb and dona, flew
to fresno, california. NO ONE
was home. the world had

the children were 7, 8, 11, 12.

they sent us here because there is a Christian
counselling center. link care.
our plane was met by jonathon olford,
and we were dropped off with a key in hand.
an apartment link care had.

i was absolutely terrified.
the shag carpet was dirty and ancient.
no car. 105 degrees. alone for the long
week-end. the children and i all slept
together in one bed the first night.

being addicted to pain pills after years
of miscarriages and abdominal infections and
16 major surgeries, i had NO idea where this was
going to take me. the thought of withdrawal
naturally setting in with four children and steam
rising from scorched asphalt, i literally gulped down
my constantly-rising fear, and foremost, to keep
calm for the children.

i have never liked this long, holiday ever since.
and will tell you more tomorrow. my journey
from hell to heaven and beyond. in some ways,
it seems like yesterday.

Monday, May 28

memorial day,
i ran into walmart to pick up
some cold drinks.  hurry.  hurry.
and i blindly walked past a dishevelled
guy in an old wheel-chair.  i went
around the back of him because i just
couldn't face another poor guy, with
a sign of needing money.
when i came out of the store, i felt
i couln't ignore this guy.  so...
i walked up to him.
heading for the car, and hoping he
wouldn't take advantage of me, and
lie for money for more alcohol or
he was waving a pitiful, old american
flag.  a veteran of some war.
"are you hungry, sir?"
"oh, i am always hungry...."
"well, what sounds really good to
you right now?"  i smiled. no agenda
with me, but genuine love and concern.
"i love fish sandwiches from mcdonald's..
yeah, those are the best!"  and he smiled
and licked his lips
so i told him i would go, right then, and get
him one.  when i got to mcdonald's, one
just didn't sound like enough, so i ordered
two.  upon return, he was sitting right there.
i pulled over next to him and handed him
his meal.  and he thanked me.
"this will last me for today."
"what is your name, sir?"
"well, hi, jim.  my name is ann."
"do you know Jesus, jim?
i mean really, really know Him?"
"yes, ma'm, i do.  i sure do,"
"well, if you know Jesus, then you
can make it through anything. He
sent me right to you to remind you that
His eyes are on you, and to not be afraid.
no matter what."
i walked to my car
and was suddenly struck
with Jesus's words about feeding
the hungry and caring for the broken,
the poor.  the weak.
"Jesus, when did we ever see
 those hungry
or naked or in pain?"
and His response was,
"when you care for these, you are
caring for Me...
"God loves you and i love you
and that is the way it should be.
God loves you and i love you and
that is the way it should be."
keep watching for Jesus to put
people in front of you.  keep watching.
He will because we are the only arms of
love and kindness He has to work with
on earth.  please don't forget.
one more memorial day passed.
thanks to the troops from multiple
wars.  thank you.
my broken rib still hurts,
and i have a black eye and
an egg on my
go with it.

yesterday, i went to
panera's to start back to
our chats. i was terrified that
my face would scare everyone.
so i put on one of my most beautiful
dresses. pulled my hair back in a
pony tail, and slipped inside, hoping...
praying that people would admire my
dress and almost forget to look up.

i found a little corner tucked away.
and pulled my computer out. everything
as usual except i couldn't get panera's
internet service no matter what i tried. was sooo hard that i wrapped
everything up. slipped out the side door.
drove home in tears. put my night-gown
back on, and slept for an hour.

i miss my children. oh, i miss them.
if you could just see them and hear them
when they talk to me with love soaked in
their messages. i'm lonely for them.

yesterday just turned into today.
my bruises look better and my rib
feels better, and it really is the truth
that life gets better and better and
harder and harder. i love you all, and
Jesus does...and that is enough for today.

Sunday, May 27

the day of chuck's service,
the sky was magnificently painting
slabs of wide blue over our heads.
it was the morning choir reminding all
of us that God was alive and ready for
the day.

the cathedral was magnificent.
chiselled like crosses.  pristine
in its design.  i was seated nearly on
the platform because i was with ann.
the pipe organ burst into music.  some
of my very favorite old hymns like
"Great is Thy Faithfulness".

eulogies by two daughters.
both well-done.
i had to suck up my emotions
because everyone else was in a wild,
celebratory joy that chuck now had
Heaven to embrace.

had only minutes to speak to cal
thomas.  does  your newspaper carry
his column?  they should.  seconds,
literally, to say "hi" to my dear friend,
wes pippert.  there was a private reception
that ann and i completely missed because
the concierge took my bag and put it in
the wrong car, and their bag in ours.

we raced back to georgetown inn.  got
it corrected, but by then the private
reception was over. great for us.
was spending a few minutes, alone, with
patty, chuck's wife.

evening came. the sky turning dark blue
as it folded its hands and turned morning

the wind is kicking up again.  i hear an owl.
dry leaves everywhere.  and i paid homage
to the great man we named colson after.
not an easy trip.  but life will never dress-up
in 'easy'.  now, it's time to keep the journey
of my soul and hang on to my children's dreams
and do the laundry.  

Saturday, May 26

i can hear the wind
pushing pebbles and sticks
and noise and chaos... almost
enough rhythm to start up the band.
to blow the horns and tap the drums
and march to the cadence of 
Heaven's choir.

i often used to sing a little song to
children in my neighborhood...and abroad:
"lonely voices crying in the city.
lonely voices sounding like a child.
lonely voices come from busy  people...
too afraid to stop a little while...."

i travelled from san francisco to washington, d.c.
to bid farewell to chuck colson via the memorial
service.  tears fled from my eyes, and down my
soul, and i longed for one last chat.  one more
letter.  another message.  just one more. tomorrow
i will tell you a few moments that God DID give me.

it feels so good to be back with
all of you.  we follow in the wake of
a noble warrior that God decided had done
more than enough service for the Master.

the wind in the trees becomes quiet.
and gathering storms howl out the message
that even in loneliness, there can be joy.

Wednesday, May 23

Wondering where Ann has been? Ann has been out of town attending the memorial service for Chuck Colson in Washington, DC.  When she got back home she cracked a rib playing with her grandchild. Please pray for Ann and expect to see her back and blogging here soon!

Sunday, May 13

from 3 or 4 years of age,
jan and i had one dream only:
to be mothers.

we lived with our dolls.
had pretend husbands.

we babysat.
even at the big Hawaiian
hotels where cabs would
pick us up and deliver us home.

jan married 11 years before i did.
i was travelling the world. running
marathons. and longing to change
the world. at 35, will and i started
right away to have a baby.

so many miscarriages. devastating
losses. every month, our hopes raised,
and every month, they were shattered.

and then, four, beautiful, southern, educated
birth mothers....alot like each other...handed
us our sons. i was the labor coach. will and
i were in the delivery room. and God gave us
a newborn, a 6mos. old, a 2 yr. and 3 yr. old.
not all at once, of course.

four birth mothers who became dearest friends.
four boys who became brothers. and i, the
adopted mom, who taught my children that
their birth mothers were angels and stars
and heroes.

today is mothers' day.
call me love. call me joy. call
me the richest lady in the world because
i get to be the mother of four sons who
love me and look after me and love me.

and i, them?
they are my morning sky
and my afternoon sun and, along
with Jesus, the only reasons i get up
every day with a sense of hope and promise.

whatever their successes and achievements,
my only REAL desire for them is that they love
Jesus and plant a touch of His magnificent love
and Redemption into every heart they can.
without Jesus living in them. i have failed.

"my desire to be like Jesus...
my desire to be like Him....."
paint the hydrants red.
throw a rainbow across every child's face.
and remember, children are gifts from God.
i celebrate Him and my four children and their
families today with a song in my heart. you, too!

Saturday, May 12

"lonely voices crying in the city...
lonely voices sounding like a child..."

alone. utterly isolated.
no one to lean on.
to wrap their arms around.
people striding by; rushing .
absorbed in their own thoughts.
troubles. maybe angry.
maybe you?

"lonely voices...too alone to
stop a little while...."

"sir, can i help you with
the groceries?"

"little boy, do you want to play ball?"

"hey! do you want to talk?"

this is our world. spread far apart.
the sky of our longings so far above
us that we don't know how to stretch
our yearnings high enough to pour the
warm sun into our hearts.

i so want to love the world better.
to watch children laugh and play
ball and know everything is going to
be okay because Jesus CAN do that.
He can do ANYTHING!!!

i saw someone smile.
at ME! my whole world laughed
and i stood up. standing straight.
and tall and for the first time in a long
time, i really felt i was worth something.

ho, every branch that waves.
every time the sun warms our skins.
ho! "all you are yearning , come and
be glad..."

Friday, May 11

it's 6 a.m.
i'm at a coffee shop by jan and tom's
in sacramento.

new day. new possibilities.
fresh hope. promises of sunrises.
how could we go on without these?!

pray for jan.
she's very discouraged.
is anyone the same after cancer?
even when you are in remission?

fly to washington d.c. next week for
chuck colson's memorial service.
we live...and then, at God's destined moment,
cross over to eternity.
i hope my life has counted in some way like
chuck's did on me.

the sky is clear.
the sun is up.
people are passing
on the sidewalk in front of this window.
life starts early every day. when i ran ten
miles a day, i left at 5:30 a.m. for my ten-mile
run, and was bathed and in my office before
half the world was even awake. i liked that.
but i'm really not an early-morning person.

today, i pray you will feel the breeze on your face.
that you will see God every where you look.
that His peace will fill you. every crack and crevice
of your souls. that you will smile easily at all who pass
your way. that absolutely NO one will look into your faces
and not see the love of God.

find joy. in little things.
like a child skipping by. back-pack in tow.
innocence in every smile.

don't think anyone is below or above you.
you are exactly where God has you, and He
NEVER values one of us more than another.

and know i truly love you.
some, sight unseen. i love you because
you are. and, like me, imperfect every day,
but knowing Christ's vast love covers it all.
take my hand, and never forget that we are
all running this glorious, hard Race together.
and that's how we make it. each helping the
other. i love you all. look for the miracles.
they are coming!!!

Thursday, May 10

trucks. cars. sanitation vehicles.
everywhere there is a little, hole-in-the-wall
restaurant.  vietnamese.  japanese.  sandwiches.
pastries (my terrible weakness).  bikes whizzing by
and engines honking for everyone to please take
notice. and move or get hit.
i look for people to catch my eye so i can smile.
you know. NOT flirt.  just put a little warmth in their
eyes. warm their hearts. feel a sliver of goodness
seep inside their souls where there is so much pain.
so much pain.  but hidden. at all costs.
covered.  but hearts are limping. shuffleling.
chilled and torn up inside and an ache that
can take any of us to the very lip of catastrophy.
this is a busy city.
sacramento. and i am sitting in a
coffee shop. facing the windows.
i've lived long enough to know all
our pain and defeat and victories and joys
are shared. 
"...He grew like a tender shoot.
   holding on to a dirt root...
  despised by others. rejected by all..."
just the physicallity of where and how Jesus
grew up.  plain and unnoticed. scoffed. ( Isaiah)
i don't know how anyone..especially i..could be
so courageous.  so bruised and pushed around.spit
at. rocks hurling.  forget the carrying of a huge, rugged
Cross.  a crown of thorns.  nailed.  talk about His
road.  the dust and heat,  trying to just to do His Father's
for all the people walking by this window.
for you. for me.  think of His journey.
"in our lives, Lord, be glorified.
be glorified..."
glory. glory. glory.
p.s. i'm going to chuck colson's memorial
service in wash. d.c..all because he lived
a glorified life for Jesus.

Wednesday, May 9

affliction! thinking again
about that . whoa.....that
word is HEAVY

to be afflicted in a world that lays
every odd on the table to be well.
to keep our affliction silent. a secret.

raise your hands. remember!
raise an arm, hands spread out.
nothing being held
"i see...i see...i plunge
and oh, it cleanses me.
oh yes it does, it cleanses me"
old hymn sung as a child.

God kisses our afflictions.
tells us just to keep our eyes
and fears on Him. He died for
the afflicted.

remember. love is all there was and
all there is and all there will ever be.
pure; love.. like water rushing over
rocks. cascading into water falls.

cleanse us with clean water, Lord.
"the cleansing stream, i see, i see."

Monday, May 7

washed against a hot, weary sky
of burdens and struggles.
always hoping...pleading
that somehow we can grab onto a
root of a miracle and hang on for
our lives.

i'm talking about single mothers everywhere.
and i mean...walking the sidewalks, searching
for a job ; to standing all day at subway, making
sandwiches usually without kind words from the
people streaming in. praying...every single day,
that Jesus will somehow make a way for us one
more month.

mothers are the souls of children who hover close.
nothing is impossible with a worn-weary mother.
you get that?!!!! mountains can be levelled by
one look from a single mother. we are fierce.
inpenetrable . will fight all the lions and wild
cats if need be to make it. make sure
our children get a fair shot at life.

i can smell a
single mother a mile away..
the way i hear them walking.
shuffeling along. damp hair from
who knows. yes, put me in a walmart
or a bus stop or someone cooking at the atlanta
airport. every hair on my neck stands up.

yes, waiting for the light...any piece of
promise that will keep them and their children
surviving another day. moon, pull in close..right
where we can see you slide across the horizon.
big, wide moon. the way we call out to each other
to keep singing and praying and holding on to the
root of dirt. still, against all odds, yeah for single

Sunday, May 6

i just happened to take a glance online
(something i NEVER do except facebook.
in BIG LETTERS, it said ann kiemel and
husband divorce.

who would come up
with such a salacious lie as this?

i don't think anyone who is married would say
it's a piece of cake.  for me, it was, hands down,
the hardest thing i ever did.  somehow, by Divine
grace, will and i clung to our vows made before
God,  and only in the last five days of his life
did the children and i feel really loved by him.

a tornado swoops in.  we are all hiding in the
bath tub together.  praying for the Lord to
save us.  tornadoes rip through our souls,
and carry carnage through our veins, and puncture
wounds so deep we cannot stop the bleeding
of pain and resentment..

i do not think that Jesus abandons those who
are divorced.  He may "hate divorce", but He
is sorrowed by many things beyond divorce.

we are all broken.  
all of us have shadows we wish weren't
there.  but...

blow on the trumpet.  hit the drums.  get
the organ going.  Jesus is our Husband and
Father. everything..every failure, every lost is ALL covered by the Blood.  all
of it.  so now we will sing and celebrate.
it doesn't matter what others think of us, it
is ALL about what God sees when He sees
pure hearts.

Saturday, May 5

i was speaking to about 5,000.
maybe more.  all my books to sell
were right behind the auditorium on the
other side of the doors.  there was so
little space to work with for me.
shoving and pushing and a rather high-
pitched demand to get to me.  i felt the
surge of the group. i  didn't look up
for fear goliath would over-take me.
the lady helping with the books had
some agitated moans.
suddenly, a voice yelled out:
"who are you anyway?!  i think you
are a phony.  a really bad phony."
now, i looked up.
this young man's face was roaring red and
his body was literally pushing between others to
get as close as he could.
i became very quiet.
looking at this bitter man.
"i'm ann. and i sin every day..and
maybe along the way i make more mistakes
than i realize.  i need you.  all the help i can get
to help the world know Jesus.
will you please forgive me?  and pray for me?
i'm doing the best i can, but not close to perfect...."
this man's eyes bored into mine.
and i stood, unmoving,
suddenly. he slipped through the crowd.
all eyes remained on me.  appalled and offended
by this character.  but i wasn't.  if i'm doing what i
should for Jesus, not everyone is going to like me.
they surely didn't like Jesus.
the Lord is powerful and strong.
and worthy in all His ways, and
the weak and forsaken and broken
fly to Him for grace and Redemption.
put your running gear in place.
give the Lord all your afflictions, and
let's keep moving toward the celestial city
where Jesus and many others are waiting.
and the morning mist and afternoon heat
will teach us and guide us day after day after day.
still thinking of the loss of chuck colson.
one honorable pure warm and passionate
man of God.  pray for his family at this time.
love, ann

Wednesday, May 2

i have just spent six days
taking care of my grandbaby, colben.
one year old.  ringlets all over his head,
and full of loving mischief.
every night, i bathed him and shampooed his
hair, and it was a perfect deal breaker re: his
going to sleep.  we love each other.  i act half-
crazy with him.  don't care what anyone thinks,
my head just flies off;.  brains and sensibility and
whatever protocol there should be. i could care less
what anyone thinks.  only the beautiful reward of his
laughter and giggles and little games that are just
between us. 
one night, i was in a hurry to get the bathing routine
out of the way, so i got into the tub, and lifted him in.
have you ever thought how beautiful it is that a baby
looks at you as if you are heaven itself, and doesn't
even know the imperfections of an old body.   for him,
i am perfect in every way.  i pour water over his head.
we laugh.  then, i lift him out.  and myself. and wrap
each of us in towels.  put a gown on, then proceed to
slather him with baby lotion in every crack and crevice,
and put his jammies on.
oh, i love this baby.
and i just bend over in pain at the
thought that anything would ever harm him.
babies don't care, or even notice, if we are
high-fashion models or 66yr. old grandmothers.
no flaw is significant.  they are searching for love.
little, new people who just want to be gently loved
and hovered over and fed.  wouldn't it be
beautiful if we all were like this?
that we never looked across the room at
someone, and walk in another direction because
we see a handicap person or someone that looks
like the dregs of society.
Jesus says that when we look and care for
"the LEAST" of these, we are serving Him.
it is as if the hungry and poor and needy are
angels , and God is just checking us out to see
how solid and pure and humble our love for others
"the least of these" really is.  these are the ways God
checks our hearts. 
oh, i just want to be watching and searching for
the seemingly "least", because then i know that
i truly AM making a difference in the world as God
has asked us to do.