Tuesday, July 31

follow Me, Jesus says!
to the grocery store. keep your
eyes open for mothers with little children
and for someone who glances at you so you
can return it with a big, warm, utterly-accepting smile.

follow Me, Jesus says!
down the sidewalks and side streets and
over by the skate park. is there anyone I am
showing you who needs Me? a warm comment.
a visit with a waiting parent?

follow Me into mcdonald's.
so many teenagers. and alot of
families, too. every parent LOVES
a kind compliment about their children.
children LOVE some attention and kindness.
and often, someone is sitting in there because
they have no place else to go.

i met a woman like this
at a mcdonald's where my son, colson,
worked. oh, it was quite a long adventure
with this lady. many stories i could tell you.
but i, in the maze of it all, was able to lead
her to Jesus. we were in pizza hut. she
was hungry. and when the pizza was placed
between us, i told her all about how Jesus
takes us WHERE WE ARE. over pizza, the
gates opened, and she asked God to come in
and live with her.

and i didn't even want pizza.
my dinner was at home, cooking, for my
children. a quick encounter.

so much can happen
in a split moment if we are listening,
and watching, and bold enough to be
love right where it's needed and where
Jesus sends us. when we are LOVE then we are
Jesus in the world. His hands and feet and arms.
we are all He has, and miracles can live because Jesus does.
everywhere you go, remember.

today, remember,
"you will seek Me and you will find Me
when you search for Me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:12

where is Jesus leading you next?
what are you earnestly searching for?
seek with ALL your heart.

Monday, July 30

you haven't forgotten about moe have you?
the guy behind the counter of chevron where i
stopped for gas? out there somewhere i could
never find again. with the sad eyes and empty,
bitter heart?

that out of thin air, i turned to him
and asked him if he knew Jesus and
you would have thought i'd punched this
tough, older, body-builder in the gut. i mean
he reacted as if i'd slapped him across the face!

Jesus? God?!!!
no, he didn't believe in them
and NEVER would.

but after little songs,
and stories of how Jesus had
been faithful to me, and how
empty his life will continue being
if he doesn't know Jesus. and my
taking his hand and praying with him....
you haven't forgotten moe, have you?

because i'm counting on you to be praying for him.
counting on you to look and search for all the other
"moes" around you. to remember how broken we
are and how long broken people have been waiting
for us to come and help them to where Jesus is.
because no one else has. and if you do not under-
stand brokenness, well God will teach you. i've
lived with a piece of brokenness in me since i was
a very young child. and wounds hurt and love heals.
God's love. please don't forget. i need you to
help me in this tired, tilted, twisted world. and Jesus
is calling....calling...calling.

Sunday, July 29

yes, my daddy was a preacher,
and he promised me before i was even
five, that Jesus pays. i wasn't sure what
payment really meant, but i was smart enough
and earnest enough to understand that
if something was ever REALLY important,
this was.

after all,
if i said my prayers and
testified in my little oxford shoes
and bravely stood for prayer when
no one else did, then there should be
some special blessing coming my way.

and then,
i was in junior high
and no one really noticed or liked me
(or jan), and we were lonely, and had
to stand for Jesus when everyone else
was buddhist and hindu. did Jesus honor
those who honored Him?

daddy said yes,
never, ever, ever forget, ann.
following Jesus pays.

and high school came. jan and i
were two caucasions in 4,000 students.
we were sure we were never going
to be significant. they didn't elect us
as songleaders and we ate lunch alone
and everything felt so, so hard.

and one afternoon, jan and i and a
japanese Christian friend met at the
altar of my father's church, and we began
to cry. and sing....a little song i love but don't
know who wrote it:

"it pays to serve Jesus.
it pays every day.
it pays every step of the way.
though the pathway to Glory may sometimes
be drear, you'll be happy each step of the way."

today...or tomorrow...
when your world caves in,
and nothing makes sense,
and pain bleeds from your thoughts and feelings
and losses, and you wonder HOW a God of love
can lead you to this dark place,
still remember, Jesus pays.
He pays every. step. of. the. way!


Saturday, July 28

what is it that makes a runner
a runner for life? i mean, it gets down
in your blood...winding clear into your
bloodstream....and the pumping of your
heart, and others can tease you....
and wonder what the deal is, but
you are hopelessly stuck. you and
running are in a love affair for life.

today, i headed for the gym.
drink in hand. hot day. needing
running shoes....but after bowing, and
telling my Partner i REALLY was counting
on Him to talk to me today, i pulled
on my headphones, and was running
before i realized that they were showing the
new york city triathlon...on one of the t.v.'s.

yes! yahoo!
i began to salivate
with excitement as the
swimming started...then the
biking...and finally, the 26.2 mile
marathon that ended in central park.

memories. my eyes swam in wonder
and excitement as it took me back years ago.

my friend really wanted to
qualify for the boston marathon in new york.
we met in the city. we decided i would jump in
at mile six. cindy would not break pace. i simply
would step in and we'd keep going.

it was one of those dreamy, clean-scrubbed
days. cindy and i were going to give it our BEST.
and new york! how much better could it get?

after all, she met me in new orleans a couple years
before, on a frigid day, where that marathon was
almost completely run on the ponchatrain bridge.
i was attempting to qualify for my first boston,
and cindy met me on the 15th mile, wind howling.
she clocked my time, and i miraculously ran across
the finish line with two minutes to spare.

now, it was my turn to help her. though i had
already qualified for two boston's, cindy was really
the athlete of the two of us. i was honored that she
chose me to help her. in the end, she tired, and it clipped her
pace. though not successful in qualifying,
she ran with me in the upcoming
boston. no number, but all heart, and we found
each other where runners were roaming around.
at the end. tired and spent.

tell me a story.
tell me that life with Jesus pays.
tell me that in success and defeat,
there is still a flag to be waved. and love
to be lived. tell me that Jesus still puts dreams
in our hearts, and if we never give up, they LIVE.
tell me that even though i can't do what i once did,
memories can still play, like records, in my mind.

Friday, July 27

here i am, sitting in panera's.
feeling kind of blue about these blogs
when a little boy just walked by and said,
"hi" to me. just like that. and found a
table. probably waiting for his mother.

no, it was his father.
i just got up and went over to
this child, and told his father he must
be very proud of his son.

"what is your name?"
"tim." he said, looking right in my eyes.
"my name is ann."
"hi, ann."

tim learned his manners from his father
because as i was leaving, he thanked
me and called me by name.

this has taken care of my day.
the sun is warmer. the breeze fresher.
i have seen the wonder of God
in the face of a child, and once
i catch His wonder, it fills and
covers all the harder things that
life knocks me around with.

Thursday, July 26

have you ever sat on your bed
and pondered all the things that are bothering you?
i do. and always to my demise.

last night, i was studying my feet.
when did my toes become so ugly?
i know i've run thousands of miles on them,
and broken several of the toes, twice, but
they are embarrassing. i definitely need
new running shoes. mine are 10 years old,
and one of my feet turns in as if it needs an
orthodic. or even surgery. it would help if
they were painted, but i'm wearing socks around
the house so i don't have to look at them.

and then, my skin. my face is the only skin
on my body that is clear and moist and pink.
the rest of my body has damaged skin from the
sun. i was born longing to have brown skin.
and all the vacations in the sun and the tanning
beds (i had to do this in secret because will would
get so upset) have now taken their toll. dry and
rough and discolored. of course,

i've been craving sweets, and i can tell
i've gained a few pounds. if i had my way,
i'd eat half a pie every other day. or some cobbler.
my mother taught us that sweets were very important.
and every meal, even breakfast, we had something
sweet. none of us ever had weight issues, and i
can never remember the word "diet" being mentioned...
ever..around our tables. last night i was studying my
body standing side-ways in the mirror. i need to
start doing some sit-ups.

by the time i was done evaluating myself, and
trying to shove the panic of all my imperfections
down deeper under my skin, i was in tears. i
pulled my hair back in a ponytail. soaked my
face with very good cream i sacrifice to have,
and i crawled into bed. lights out and tears wet
on my cheeks.

i love that little chorus (author unknown):
"so...forget about yourself, and concentrate on Him,
and worship Him...just forget about yourself, and concentrate
on Him.....and worship Him. Jesus Christ, the Lord..."

look for something beautiful
to say to someone. it will make
all the harder things in their lives
seem so much easier to face.

Wednesday, July 25

jan and tom have bought a beautiful,
new home. even with an elevator.
beautiful and lovely and jan is in
deep, deep depression. she HATES
the mechanics of moving.

i know this is hard to understand, but it
always makes me smile. tom has had to fly
her to friends' across the country while he has
done all the moving, and she returns with it
fixed. well, another move and such trauma!

she called at almost midnight.
"ann, you know what we don't want
to take, right? you can pack the kitchen?
oh, honey, i'm out here on the couch (whispering).
i don't want to make tom sad, but i don't know what
happens to me with a move. remember, mommy
had to come and move me out of my dorm room.
there's a block, somewhere!"

this morning, my phone rings and jan says,
"i think i'm dying. i really do, ann."

"but, honey, you were happy day before yesterday,
and excited about my artwork and the decorator a few
days ago....."

"i know, but this morning it feels like death. ann,
you could make alot of money if you'd come help pack
the kitchen and my things......" (of course, i will!)

well, you all know i would do anything for jan.
just about anything on earth. but brandt is being
sent to puerto rico (firefighter....air force) and we are
having a little cook-out for him and jasmine and the baby
on saturday. next week-end, i am taking the train to monterey
to spend the week-end with taylor. we will have so much
fun. now, amidst all this, tom and jan's BIG move has knocked
on the door. and darkness hovers close by.

what scares you? what makes you want to run for your life?
remember. to pray. that is sometimes the last thing i think to do.
oh, i have prayer in my pocket for BIG stuff, but jan's move and
brandt's tour and colson getting off at one a.m. every morning,
and having to run three miles in a forest and darkness? well,
these are times we usually wring our hands and wind around
the clocks in our minds and just plain worry.

"pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit...." ephesians 6

i'll let you know when jan and tom get IN.
furniture in place. food on the shelves. clothes hanging
in the closet. i think this will be their last move. smile.

Tuesday, July 24

gloria is my friend in dallas.
her son and brock are best friends.
she came in one day and i spotted her
shoes first thing.

"gloria, i love your shoes!"

she smiled.

"$5.95 at walmart!"

i was impressed.
will took us to walmart almost every day
when we lived in chicago, and the children
were very young, and i silently decided that
i was never going to walmart when we moved.
the thrift stores were better. we had this old
car, and i told the children we weren't going to
put a cross on the back because i didn't want
anyone driving around us to think this car was
the best God could do!

before i married, my store of choice
was ann taylor or nordstrom's or louis
vuitton, and God had brought me low.
very, very, very low as will tried all
different kinds of jobs.

those, clean, simple little black flats
made me smile. and the next morning,
brock (who i was visiting) took me to walmart
for my beautiful purchase, too. i learned a BIG
lesson that day.

gloria, i love you. i hope you are still reading sarah young
with your morning coffee, and selling alot of cars, and
knowing that God's love is VAST. He is your silent Partner
on that car lot, and He ALWAYS has His eyes on you, and will
never forget what He had to watch what your husband did to you.
God knows how to just take care of men like that. He sure took
care of you. and i will always love you, gloria. no matter where
we each travel or if we actually see each other again, i will always
remember you. and how much i love you. and how we laughed
and crawled into the bathtub when the tornado went through.

"they cried to the Lord in their troubles, and He rescued them!
He led them from their darkness and snapped their chains."
psalm 107:14

gloria, you are beautiful, and my friend forever.
remember. never forget!!

Monday, July 23

for one year, i have committed to a
12-step program. it involves faithfulness.
digging inside ourselves and putting our ugliest
and worst pieces on the table for all to see.
nine people cap the group. we are all broken
women. all in recovery from some, or multiple
addictions. we are bound by profound love,
and before the end of the year, we will be
committed for life.

a whole YEAR?! i always responded as if i
was carrying three jobs and coping with four, small
children. then the fear. how can i know that this
is truly confidential? having been a public person,
my trust level is lacking.

some of us are professionals of some kind. some
have small children. inadequate grammar. but we
are ALL on level ground, at the foot of the Cross.
and we've all seen some pretty ugly pieces of life
that we continually struggle to relinquish.

last night, the first woman spoke of her
ex-ex husband from long ago who beat her
up. knocked out her front teeth. the next gal
had some issues with a couple of her ex-husbands.
that she was a heroin addict for many years, but
now has 20+years of recovery. most of us cry at
least once during the two hours of working out our struggles.

a couple weeks ago, i quietly confessed that i
lost my virginity at 27 years with a married man.
i spoke of what my life looked like. this man absolutely
convinced me that we were an exception to God's rule
of purity. i would get into my sport's car at night, and
drive around streets screaming and crying and begging
God to save me. to help me know. and i would open
the door and lean out to puke, and continue wailing
in a grief that pulled me to the bottom of the ocean where
no air and no comfort existed.

and i would be in a faraway city. might have spoken to
5,000 people. but as soon as i closed the door behind me
in my hotel, i would fall on my face. i no longer cared what
might have gone on at that patch of carpet. i had come from
a powerful service where Jesus really touched me and used
me, and here i was. Jesus knew i was utterly His. passionate
for the world to know Him. but i was so lost. so scared. all
my bones were broken and my muscles atrofied & blood was
pouring out of my veins and choking me until i begged to die.

when i finished, in tears, one of the women looked over at
me and mouthed "thank you", and began to weep uncontrollably.
deep, dark places. buried and guarded because if ANYONE
knew these terrible sins, love and acceptance would be over
forever. our pasts reveal how vulnerable and shaky we are.

i love these women. God put us together.
we walk on coals of fire and hear hissing in our ears, but
we push our darkness out. unveiling all the ugliness. we
don't ever plan to go back to secrets where things fester and
eat away any shred of beauty in our lives.

maybe none of you have ever known such evilness
and despair, but i promise you that we may have messed
up big time, but we aren't worthless. we are brave. fighters &
warriors who will not give up. never quit. not until Jesus
welcomes us with an arm around our shoulders, and the
words "well-done".

Sunday, July 22

have you ever been to a beautiful function
and not felt sure of yourself? do you feel,
deep inside, that somehow you are inadequate
and missing something? that you're not enough?

i do. i have spoken to thousands at a time. often.
but i'm extremely shy in a smaller group. it is all about
me. my core that has to keep stretching and pushing
the insecurities away. i have to remember life is NOT
all about me. that i need to smile and be quiet and accept
the fact that no one seems very interested or impressed
with me. all my life i have yearned for significance.
been terrified of rejection. tonight was one of those
nights again. maybe i will always have to set myself
straight...and talk fear and uncertainty away in very
clear and stern words.

some people seem to have no fears.
flawless in their self-perceptions. i just
have never been there. externals NEVER
make us enough because if we are not
enough without grand successes then we
will never be enough with them. just
thinking that maybe some of you are
struggling in this area, too.

Jesus stands.
straight and strong and
with an ARM that is NEVER too short.
in our most uncertain moments, Jesus
loves us and sees us as beautiful and complete.

ring the church bells. begin a chorus. stare
fear and uncertainty in the face. and run the Race.
help someone up. pat them on their shoulders.
look someone in the eye every day, and make them
run stronger and believe harder because there is
so much love in your eyes that they can see your soul
and know you walk with the angels and swim against
the tide and level every mountain. and so can they.

i love this old hymn:
"pass me not, oh gentle Savior.
hear my humble cry. while on
others Thou art calling, do not pass
me by.......Jesus, Jesus, hear my
humble cry. while on others THou
art calling, do not pass me by.."

i'm on your team.
forever. no matter what.
and i will always love you UNCONDITIONALLY
because that is what JEsus died for. and any
other love is worth absolutely nothing. stay on
course. and when you fall, just keep getting up.
i utterly believe in and for you.

Saturday, July 21

do you know what it is to get lost?!
really, really, really lost? well, i'm a
pro at this nightmare. three lanes to
cross. all the streets one way. traffic
and people and horns honking until
i almost lost all sense of kindness. i
wanted to pull to the curb. get out.
and take a hammer and start hitting

jan had led me from the capitol where
they live to this place 20-30 blocks away.
we got there! a real miracle. and then.
THEN, it was our job to get back to 800J
where tom and jan's loft is.

we went one way. miles from anywhere.
and then we turned a few times. and from
dead ends to being so far out of the city
(downtown) that i could only see miles of
little shopping areas and grass and kaiser
permanente. and on and on and on.
we'd pull over and ask someone to help
us, but we didn't have a pen, and each
direction guru led us farther into the deep
forests of outer sacramento.

my little pump light was now on. almost
zip gas. jan called tom to help us, and he
couldn't even imagine where we were. finally,
i decided to pull into this gas station. an obviously
bad part of town. jan gave me a credit card that i
thought was a debit card. didn't know the pin.
had to go out and get jan.(in terrible back pain).
"honey, can your put your pin # in?" she thought i
was giving up top secrets and someone was going
to steal all their money. she started typing all these
numbers, and i touched her arm. "honey, your PIN #".
she was punching in their phone number.

i started pumping in the $20 of gas, and was waiting
for the indian man (extremely patient) to give me directions....
please sir....so we could FINALLY find our way home.
he handed me his gps. of no help because it was ..."go east
on del rios...then west on...." i NEVER learned how to
figure out east vs. west or north. i bought jan some strawberry
licorice, and we just walked out. hopeless. suddenly,
as i was getting back into the car, completely flat-lined, i
saw a lovely black woman beginning to gas up. keeping
my incredible anxiety buttoned tightly behind my belly button,
i walked over. put my hands on this lady's shoulder. and.....

"ma'am, could you possibly explain how i can get back into
the city?" hmmmmm. she said, " i want to send you on a way
where you won't get lost." like she knew our infirmity. she gave
me very clear directions, and i looked deep into her eyes.
"my sister is ill, and we've been lost for over an hour. even
if you don't usually pray, would you please pray we get there?"
she asked my name. hers was patricia. "i pray it in the name of
Jesus!" we were in front of 800J within five minutes.

God often goes to great effort to remind us that all we need
is HIM. that He always has a plan. and always gets us to
the right places. wave the flags. smile wide. touch the little
boy at the market, and speak something beautiful to him. tell
his mother she must be very proud. keep it together as best
you can. calm and quiet even though you are screaming and
kicking inside. i'm way too noisy until i sometimes can hardly
hear His voice.

happy travelling through life this week. look for the angels.
i learned that yesterday.

Friday, July 20

oh, i'm so excited
to tell you one of the most
beautiful stories in my life.

it happened a couple weeks ago.
hot afternoon. i was coming home
from visiting tom and jan in sacramento.

the gas needle was on empty. and i
coached it along. 'come on, you can take
me into lodi. i know it's a long way, but
you're old faithful, and i'm counting each mile.
you need to pull this buggy all the way. please
don't disappoint me. you know better than
anyone HOW much you need to keep

and my begging became pleading. and
serious talking with God. i had no doubt
Jesus and i and my faithful, 2005 suv would
come through. THEN, the little gas pump
showed up. i was serious. real serious now.
and i humbly told God to do what He needed
to do.

out in the middle of nowhere, among scrub
bushes and blowing dirt, i saw a shell station
and was just grateful because i was close to
being bone dry. winding around on cracked
pavement, i started pulling up to a pump...but
just as i did, out of the corner of my eye, a little
deeper in the weeds, i saw a chevron, and felt
God pointing me THERE. so....

i pulled out and into chevron…sometimes, i
really can't figure God out, but i try to keep my
ears open and to simply obey. i pulled up to a
pump, and went in and handed the guy $50 for
gas. and head for the cold drinks. i only
noticed that the man behind the counter had
very sad eyes. after filling my cup, as i was
turning toward the cash register, i asked this
tough mexican if he knew Jesus?

have you met Jesus?
Jesus?!! i don't believe in Him or God.
now i was standing in front of him. across
the counter.

heh, he said, did you hear me? i won't ever
trust Him or believe God cares about me.
my father....my FATHER...asked me to let
him borrow $400,000, and he's never paid
me back. how can a father do that??!

we were alone. he had massive upper arms
and chest. a body builder. but a broken man.
it showed all over his face and the obvious
tension in his body. and i was NOT going to
leave him by himself. i had a mission to take
care of.

moe. that was his name. and the depth of
my compassion was massive. i sang to him:
'God loves you and i love you and that's the way
it should be'. i reminded him that only God Himself
could have brought me there. God literally drove me
right to his front door. did he understand? i told him
miracles Jesus had done as a single mother with four,
young sons. and i sang another little song. my eyes

why? why, i want to know, did you start talking about
Jesus to me? well, moe, Jesus told me to and i don't
mess with my Savior. that's why i'm here. a messenger
for Jesus. forget your dad, moe. forgive my language, but
i think he sounds like a real jerk. let go of your bitterness. God
has all kinds of plans for you. and i reached across the counter
and took his hand in mine. we were still all alone.

"moe, i want to pray with you. do you know how to receive
Jesus into your heart?" and i prayed. swimming in love. and
he held my hand tightly. "moe, if you really meant what you
prayed, then welcome to the children of God". as i was walking
out the door, moe said one more time, "i just want to know,
one more time,how you got here and why you kept talking about Jesus?"

because Jesus loves you that much....to send me and let you know.
"if i can help somebody as i go along....then my living cannot be in vain.."

Jesus is sending us in the by-ways and corners of the world.
i don't think i could even find that chevron again. but MOE?
he's in my heart and soul and bones and core. forever!

Thursday, July 19

"behind all the accomplishments and radiant,
stellar performances lived my gouging heart
of pain. somehow i believed that if i could be
smart enough and find some gushing notoriety,
i would finally become whole and complete...i was insatiable.

today i understand that i was never
enough before best-selling books and
standing ovations. thus i was not enough with them.
eternal glory does not equate with a peaceful,
integrated, healthy, and whole life.

thus it is a glorious thing when God sets
someone free. i know because He did this for me...
free from myself. from my self-loathing
and gaping insecurities."
quote from my book: seduced by success

glorious God.
beautiful and miracle-working.
people long for more wealth. for a
bigger house and a fancier car.
things! all kinds of fancy extra's.
i genuinely yearn for more of Jesus.

the One who set me free from myself.
the rough-hewn cross. the mocking and
spitting and making fun of the ONLY One who
crawled to golgatha. a crown of thorns on His
holy head. my heart is set on Him. He makes
being a warrior the finest job assignment

march to His music. listen to His songs.
see the sun and know it's His warmth.
laugh and notice and clap and celebrate.
dance against the evening sky. and ALWAYS
know He is ENOUGH. He is the ONLY one
worth following. our Liberator. until He touched
my core and delivered me from my seeking, i
was all mixed up and lost and absolutely
looking in all the wrong places for the things
that are worthless.

search until you find Him.
i did, and He changed EVERYTHING
in my life. He set me free. oh, glory.

Wednesday, July 18

today is july 17, 2012.
my sister's youngest son
turning 28... he walked away
from a cushion job in san franscisco
into the streets with the homeless.
he couldn't bear to think of the broken
with no one to genuinely care about them.

i love my little devotional book by sarah young.
Jesus calling. simple and pure. engratiating.
"learn what it means to be a child of the
everlasting King. your richest duty is
devotion to Me. the ways of the world
have warped your conscience, which punishes
you for doing the very thing that pleases Me
most: seeking my face.

be silent and attentive in My Presence. you
are on holy ground."

"hallelujah, i have found Him.
whom my soul so long has sought."

Jesus, do you hear me? can you see me?
i'm standing under the massive sky and gazing
at the stars. what a world. what a Savior.
come, Jesus. touch us. teach us. make us
more like you. oh, i'm so hungry. starving.
for You. do You hear us calling? we are
here. quiet. waiting.

Tuesday, July 17


"hi sir, my name is ann and, well, i believe if you will honor
God, He will honor you and i was wondering -- well, you know
tomorrow night right before the game, if i could talk to the..."

"absolutely not! i'm a very superstitious man, if we need
a little help, we'll work a little harder on the field tomorrow."

everything he said was true. what business did i have marching
into his office? all i could do was sit there and say, "yes, sir. i
understand. yes, i know, sir." but on the inside i was talking
to God, "You're a big God. You can do anything. if You want
me on that football field, You'll get me out there." but on the
outside it was, "yes, sir."

suddenly the coach turned to quinn, the quarterback, and
said, "quinn, you won't believe this but, well, after talking to
ann, i guess you can present it to the football team this afternoon
and if they want her, they can have her." but he said to me,
"don't count on it."

i said, "thank you, sir, very much."

i could have walked out feeling this small, but i walked out with
my head high and my back straight because i had a great Lord
on my side.

that afternoon quinn called and said the team had voted
unanimously to have me pray with them on the field minutes
before the game. i was so excited until i got to the stadium and
saw the thousands of people, the bleachers were packed.
there were four extra rows of people standing and over the
loudspeaker system the man said, "ladies and gentlemen, i have a
special announcement to make tonight. we have the largest
crowd in the history of this stadium here tonight -- so many
thousands of people." there i was, a nobody ann in her knee
socks and clogs -- scared.

the football team ran out and dropped to their knees in a
huddle right in the middle of the field. the coach ushered me
out and just gave me a shove right into the middle of the
huddle. well, i didn't know what to do. since everyone was
kneeling, i assumed i'd better kneel too. so i dropped to my
knees in the middle of those big, rugged, huge football players.

i couldn't think of much of anything to say except, "hi, men.
you're with ann, and i have a verse i'd like to share with
you. you can pray about anything---anything--and if you
believe you can have it, it's yours. i promise you tonight you're
going to win. i know all the odds are against you. i know
you've never been number one in the league. i know God
sometimes permits us to lose to learn. but tonight you're going
to win -- but you're going to win on one condition--that you
recognize that without God you are a failure, but with Him you
can do anything. if you're runninng down the field tonight to
catch a pass, or you're headed for the goal line, or you're
headed for a tackle, i just want you to whisper one thing--"God,
it's You and me." one of the guys in the huddle raised his fist
all of a sudden and yelled, "God, it's You and me" and
another guy said, "yeah, God, it's the two of us." i prayed
with them and one of the guys in the huddle said, "let's do it
together one more time." and down on their knees in the
middle of a huge stadium in front of thousands of people this
football team that didn't know much about our Lord raised
their fists in the air and yelled, "God, it's You and us." then they
slapped me on the back, knocked me over, and ran. i picked
myself up and headed over to where they had a seat for me
with the team. i walked with my head high and my back

scared? are you kidding me? no way was i scared because, you
see, faith to me is kind of like jumping out of an airplane 10,000
feet up. if God doesn't catch you, you splatter. but how do
you know whether or not He is going to catch you unless you
jump? I had jumped out and i wasn't scared.

in the first three minutes of the game one of our guys made a
touchdown...i mean the first three minutes. we were so
excited. everyone was screaming and yelling and slapping him
on the back. he pushed his way through and reached out and said,
"ann, i just wanted to come over and tell you it was God and
me." and he ran off. five minutes later another one of our
guys made a 99-yard touchdown run. i don't know a lot about
football; i do know that a 99-yard touchdown is pretty exciting,
the place was going wild. they were crying and bouncing their
hero on their shoulders. suddenly i saw him get down off the
backs of the other football players. he came over to me, laid
his hand on my shoulder, and said, "ann, i wanted you to know it
was God and me. it was God and me all the way down the

to make a long story short, we won. number one in the
league for the first time in history. i'm not sure if you've ever
been pulled across a field by a football team or not, but they
pulled me. they loaded their hot, sweaty bodies onto the bus
and dragged me with them. they began to scream and cheer
and yell. i said, "stop, stop, don't scream for me. don't yell for
me. i'm a nobody. yell for a big God who really came through
for you tonight." and with tears leaving muddy streaks
down their faces they began to scream and cheer and yell for a
big God.

suddenly, someone said, "ann, can you step off the bus a
minute?" i looked around and it was the coach. i said,
"yes," and i got off the bus. he kind of pulled me over and
grabbed my hand in his two big rough hands. i looked up into that
rugged face and i saw the gleam of a tear in each eye. he looked
down at me and said, "ann, i've played some pretty great
games in professional football and i've coached some great
teams, but i've never watched boys play ball the way my boys
played ball tonight. i know it must have been your faith in a big
God. we are wondering if you could meet us on the field
every friday night."

"i got into my little kharman ghia and headed down the
freeway laughing with God and singing at the top of
my lungs."

Monday, July 16

this is a true story from way back.
an experience i've always tried to live out,
even after all these years.


when i was in southern california, i received a call one morning
to speak on a large high school campus. the man said,
"we're a secular high school campus, but we've heard quite a bit about you...and we were wondering if you could come to a special assembly and speak to all of our athetes early some morning...."

"sir, i said, "i would love to, but i can't even catch a baseball. what would i have to say to the athletes?
thank you very much for asking me anyway." well, he thought it might kind of give a boost to the athletic department.
then, suddenly, i thought of my motto: yes, Lord."
to anything He asks of me anytime, anywhere. i said, "alright,
i'll do it. i don't know what i'll say but i'll be there."

and at 7:30 friday morning, through pouring rain, i drove to oliver high school campus. i walked into an auditorium that was packed: the football team. track team. basketball.
they were all there. i walked to the front. picked up
the mike, and couldn't think of anything to say except,
"hi, i'm ann. i'm a nobody. i'm lost in a big world, but
i'm going to change my world. you watch. you'll see.
because i believe in the kind of Christ that loves me."

when i finished, two of the football players came up and said,
"ann, that was just great. tomorrow night is our championship game. every year, we play for the title. and someone else wins. no team has been able to beat them. all the odds are against us. but ann...do you think you could come and talk to the
guys a few minutes right before the game? it might inspire us?

by that time i was beginning to feel right at home with the athletes. i said, "yes, i would like to do that." but it so happened that several faculty members were standing there and they said...."uh, miss kiemel, that would be impossible. we're afraid you have forgotten that this is a secular high school campus. this morning was a very special assembly."

i love the word 'impossible." ...because i have a giant God inside me. i turned to the quarterback and said, "take me to the coach." i was sitting in his office when in walked the biggest man i'd ever seen.
ex-pro football player and ex-professional wrestler.

"yeah, what do you want?"


Sunday, July 15

another Sunday is about to pass.
WHERE do these days race and shove and
beat out time? i love the Sabbath. my
favorite day of the week. was married
on a sunny, Sunday afternoon.

a fresh week.
will i be enough of God that
others will see the shine in my eyes,
and know He really lives and loves.

sometimes i am afraid of dreams...
and of the world. that i will not be
strong enough. that it will be over
my head, or the burden will crush

life is only as powerful as its moments.
a great life is not the result of alot of
money...or smashing success. it is
great only in terms of how many significant
moments there have been. most people
forget the moments, and strive only for
great success.

i hope i remember the moments. every
morning i wake up with a prayer...as i've
done for years and years.

"Jesus, i'm just ann. make me creative.
give me ideas for my corner of the world."

it's almost seven p.m., and i'm in my
work-out clothes. to do the best i can.
so many who don't know Jesus. so many
that need Him.

"in a race, everyone runs but only one person
gets the first prize. so run your race (of life)
to win. to win the contest, you must deny your-
selves many things that would
keep yourselves to keep you from doing
your best. an athlete goes to all this trouble
just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup.
we do it for a heavenly reward that never
disappears. so...i run straight to the goal
with purpose in every step."
second corinthians 9:24-26

have a beautiful week
with your heart on your sleeve.
your back straight. your faith

Thursday, July 12

continued . . .

a hanky was placed over my nose, and
a strong arm across my back. then i felt
that clean, cold water wash over me.

"and I will give you a new heart...
and right desires...and put a new
spirit in you. I will take out your stony
hearts of sin and give you new hearts
of love. and I will put new hearts of
love within you so that you
will obey My laws, and
do whatever I command you."
ezekiel 36: 26-27

suddenly my head was lifted out of
the water..the world singing. hugs of
joy from everyone. i don't know why
i was crying, but i couldn't seem to
stop. nothing would ever be the same
again. the sins of my youth. the dreariness
of the past year. the weakness and im-
perfection of this piece of clay.

dietrick bonhoeffer said,
"cheap grace is grace we bestow upon
ourselves....grace without discipleship.
costly grace is the gospel that must be
sought again and again. the Door at
which one must knock. it is costly
because it cost a Man His life. and it
is grace."

exerpt from my book, "i gave God time."

Wednesday, July 11

it was my second year to run israel's
marathon. 26.3miles around the sea of galilee.
i had brought seven girls with me, and my
road guy because he was a marathoner, too.

the miles moved quickly, and almost before i
knew it, i had crossed the finish line in wonderful
time. jan's husband was the one who got me
started running.

before we headed home,
i wanted all of us to be baptised in
the sea of galilee. looking up a church
in the hotel directory, i called and asked
the pastor if he would be willing to come.
absolutely! so in very cold weather and
icy waters, we stepped into the waters.

"let's each pick a song we want everyone
to be singing as we are being lifted out of
the water."

my song was: "freely, freely you have
received...freely freely give...."

the sky was flawlessly clear. fishermen
were casting nets in the distance. just as
they had 2,000 years ago. the sun streamed
against the silvery, blue waters.
warm on our heads and
necks. we sang a few songs and began to walk
into the chilled waters. i was last in line.

wet heads. cold, shivering bodies. fast-beating
hearts. i said,
"when i come up, remember...to sing "freely, freely
you have received. freely, freely give....go in My name,
and because you believe, others will know that i live."

continued tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, July 10

yesterday, i was sitting
in panera's. working on a blog.
head down. praying because i wasn't
"on" yesterday. but.....

i kept hearing women laugh.
hard. full-throttle. all out.
i looked up and found three
women in a booth who, for at
least an hour, threw back their
heads, and roared with joy.

i was picking up my stuff.
didn't know if i blogged very well,
but loaded down with computer and
purse and car keys, i walked over to
their booth.

"i forgot what it means to REALLY laugh.
to let go of the load of life, and thoroughly
enjoy the moment. the here and now."
they all looked up at me. somewhat shocked
by my attention. joy in all their eyes. one
of the women looked as if she had had chemo.
and her hair was growing back. they were
SO lovely.

"i'm going to write about you on my blog
because laughter is so beautiful, and you've
taught me that there isn't much of it going
on where i live. God bless you all."

as i left panera's, my eyes were shining
with tears and love and anticipation of what
Jesus is going to bring us all in the days ahead.

just reminding you
that Jesus created laughter
as a healing source we can dip into
on the darkest of days.
love, ann

Monday, July 9

do you want to count where you live?
do you long for an opportunity to be a
FORCE for Jesus? right where you live?

i know this is what God longs for.
loving the world to Him.

"remain at your post and do your duty...
for the glory of God and His kingdom."
chuck colson

salute Jesus.
everywhere you go.
shout the GOOD news.

Jesus lives.
He reigns.
no sin too great that
He will not forgive and redeem.
the sun rises and sometimes fades
to a darkness so deep
that the soul is in travail
and doubt and fear take over.

keep your eyes on Him.
don't try to fix things. just
worship the Savior of the world.
and put Him in charge of the darkness.

listen to the choir. jump in and join
the music. don't sway to the right or left.
remain where God puts you. don't run and
try to fix everything. our duty, above all else,
is to worship Him. to help those who stumble
by; lost and wounded by life. and they won't
make it without someone loving them.

love in small ways. speak about Jesus.
of all He has and can do. cookies on a plate.
playing ball with a child. hugging someone
who feels so alone. sing something simple,
but in earnest. take bold strides. be fearless....i

believe you can. and i can. and it may look
silly and crazy, but God and the world won't
think so if it all is done for His glory and He
guides us.

Sunday, July 8

have you ever had one of those days
when it feels twisted and frustrating?
when your brain can't seem to patch thoughts
together, and even your typing on the
computer is a messy process? hitting
wrong keys that keep the smooth, fluid
flow of a message being, instead, mixed
up and difficult to understand?

well, that is my story about today.

finally, i picked up my purse and computer
and bank stuff to work on, and left panera's.
i drove across the street to the grocery store.
picked up my synthroid script (thyroid), and
became glued to the new magazines at the
check-out counters. all with pictures of tom
and katie cruise and the holes in their marriage.
i'm not afraid to say that, yes, i love reading
people magazine once a week. filled with
stories of people.

the only time i refuse to even browse through
an alluring magazine is when it is all about weight
loss. i've never had a weight problem, but so
many do. it would really hurt me if i felt judged
and evaluated by my size and weight.

on these days, we need to especially ask God to
make us creative in doing something for someone
around us. it is amazing what God can do
with a messy day. i'm listening.
really carefully, even if the world is a
very noisy place.

can you rearrange my thoughts and painful
places today? can you, somehow, use these
moments to create beauty out of chaos. i know
You say that your best work is accomplished
in our weakness. Lord, i'm weak. come,Jesus, come.

Saturday, July 7

katie holmes may be divorcing tom cruise
after five years of marriage and a child
together, but we know that Jesus is NEVER
going to divorce us. never going to walk away.
never going to tell us that we just aren't
cutting it.

God picks us up when we fall.
He feeds us when we are hungry of soul
and food and compassion.

Jesus doesn't fight with us.
no. never. He infuses us with His vast
love, and plants dreams in us when we
long to matter; to
make a difference. and
if we never give up, Jesus makes dreams live.

God sometimes has to discipline us out of
love, but He watches as we sleep. smoothing
our wounds. wrapping His love around us
so that, in time, He can raise us up again.
with more power and strength that He can
use in a hollow, broken world.

Jesus is a perfect fit for our lives.
and nothing can ever change that unless
we walk away. and, even then, yearns
to bring the prodigals Home.

let's just decide
to follow the Lord of the universe.
decide to choose His will even if it
is contrary to ours. what we think is the
very best plan is only counterfeit to what God
has for us.

today is our hour
to run harder. with more earnest
compassion. and to love all those
who pass our way.

paint the sky red.
grab somebody's hand.
let the breeze blow against your face.
and know God with an earnest devotion
that He merits. keep dreaming. shoo the devil
away, and rise to what He is calling us to.

Jesus reigns,
and we know because the choirs
are singing and the children are dancing
and everything smells like joy. just never, ever
forget that God doesn't divorce us no matter WHAT
we have done. no. never!

Friday, July 6

raymond berry, the famous wide-receiver of the
baltimore colts years ago, and in the football hall
of fame, called me a few days ago. i've been close
friends with him and his wife for years. in all the
games he ever played, he never once...NOT ONCE...
dropped the footballs thrown to him.

an incredible believer of Jesus Christ.
a scholar of the Bible.

"ann, this battle is really getting to me.
my faith is shrivelling. i'm beginning to doubt
things. to lose sight of God in this war."

"oh, raymond, join my club. there are days
i'm not sure i'm going to make it. when the
heat of battle begins to cinge my joy and

we laid one problem after another on the
Throne. forty-fifty minutes of letting go of
the human struggles that you encounter if
you've lived long enough for the enemy to
take you on in such a way that you
sometimes actually begin to believe maybe
he is going to level us. throw us under the
bridge. broken and lost. and win the journey
called living.

then, i remembered a moment not very
long ago when i saw the face of Jesus on
raymond. the latest super bowl. they had
asked raymond to carry the vince lombardi
trophy onto the platform to be handed out to
the winning team.

the champions made a path for raymond to
walk through. as he carried the large trophy,
players would reach out and stroke it. touch it.
amped up with excitement. but the entire walk
to the platform, the cameras focused only on
raymond berry. he had a sweet smile on his face.
a humility hard to find in this day and age.

i wept. watching this from my living room. cross-country.
never could i remember God so lifting someone up
as He did raymond that day. "this in my son in whom i
am well-pleased...." hand-selected by God while the
entire world looked on.

once again, raymond and i were reminded that
the things we thought God had promised us were
shaped differently than what we expected, but for sure.

Thursday, July 5

from the time the children were babies to two's and older,
buying fireworks was a BIG deal at our house. will took
us all to different stands along the streets. alot of them
were selling for different churches. will and the boys
would get the lowest price if he could, and four, little
boys were jumping up and down with excitement.

the babies were clapping and giggling, and weren't
sure about all the euphoria that was buzzing all around
them. no matter. it must be a BIG event!

almost before darknes fell, will had found us a perfect,
private place safe and able to give ourselves our own
secret performance. then, every child had to pick
up all the mess, and leave the place as we had found
it. but what mattered?!! we were all still euphoric
even in the cleaning up.

one of will's greatest gifts was knowing how
to give us a good time in the 'elements'. it
was one thing i fell in love with. camping?!!!
that was the worst. just knowing that there was
no bathroom close made me need to pee every
30 minutes. one time, i was pregnant. so, even
more so. we did target shooting. climbed down
reeds and tripped through dirt and rocks, to fly
fishing. we didn't always have great success,
but we had fun.

enjoy life as you have it.
know that every breath is a gift.
if we knew the "bus" was coming to get
us for Heaven, how would we change our spirits
to those that least mattered to us? what would
happen to those we least cared about? would be
keep holding onto the bitterness we carry for
certain other?

already july.
time chases us and we can barely
keep distance to move far enough ahead before
we are caught with the world we are seeking to
keep making better.

no matter what i have left time-wise,
i just want it to be for Jesus and those broken
around me. i want my business in order for
the boys. and i surely want my children to have something
left of me that they can hold on to. that will take a miracle
where i am now. four children and a mother all working
for food to eat and miracles to hold onto, in our minds, for
the rest of time.

do you have dreams? are you on your tip-toes waiting
to see them happen? do you REALLY believe that God
is big enough to do all this? really?? then.....

fly toward the stars. grab someone's hand. hold on
to all the love and passion you have for Jesus. i have always
said i didn't want to live to be 80. shrivelled and wrinkled.
but i've been calculating, and i think i need those extra years,
whatever state i'm in, to work somthing out for the chldren.
i may get old and wrinkled, but i'm heading to the beautiful
Jerusalem. and time is of the essense. and lost lives to
be won. so run the Race! keep at it. God tells us to.

Wednesday, July 4

another divorce in hollywood.
beautiful couple. wealth. the whole
picture looks like perfection. but,
what once looked so idyllic, has crumbled
and broken apart and ready to be dissolved.
tom and katie cruise.

the word is out that katie doesn't want suri,6,
under the tight scrutiny of scientologists.
i wondered when that was going to swim to the
surface. at first, katie was madly in love with
tom. scientology and all. to have the top scientologist
go with you on your honeymoon seems overboard,
but this is how it all started.

our lives can appear so sealed with joy and celebration.
my father, a minister, often said the wedding is a couple's
highest peak, but more often than not, it eventually begins to
crumble. seep and disintegrate. in america, every other
house, is a single parent house.

it is sort of like flowers that bloom and die.
seasonal. fresh, and then begin to wilt. gone
until a new season or when someone cares enough
to keep picking the stems so new ones can live.

life is complicated. it grabs us almost before we leave
the baby bed. and teases our sincerity and laughs at
our inadequacies. at least it has with me. i received a
call from a dear friend, and he is a spiritual giant. but he
was pretty down and ready to check out. i've been there
alot in my life, and i think of life like running and skipping
across the caverns that put us in frightening situations.

maybe most of you have been free-falling like me.
grab a cup of cool water. toss your head back and
swallow every drop. raise your eyes to the skies.
look into the face of God. and know.
yes, completely know down deep in your core,
that Jesus NEVER tosses us out...and in all His
comings and goings, never forgets us. passes us by.

"there is a river....
that flows from Calvary...
there is a fountain....that NEVER shall run dry."
author unknown.

i'm heading for the gym to get tortured and cleansed
and more stenghthened for this journey.

have a beautiful july 4.
wish my children could all come home,
but their phone calls brush across my heart
with such joy that i KNOW no one can be more
blessed than i.

and thank you for all the responses
to my blogs. thank you for sticking with me.
your kind words you send are just absolutely
breath-taking. comforting for my sore places.
genuinely, thank you.

Tuesday, July 3

three a.m.
the light under this mother's door, shining.
when one of the children got up to go
to the bathroom, and saw the light leaking
out, each would know that their mother
was on her knees, praying.

the power of it.
facing God. doing business with Him
because, in the end, He is the only One
who can protect and guide and lift up
our children and us as parents.

every night,
as jan and i crawled into bed,
my father would put all else aside, and
begin to walk back and forth, outside our
bedroom door, praying and beseeching God
in our behalf.

a parent committed to prayer.
talking literally to Jesus Himself.
reaching out to touch the hem of
God's robe of righteousness. agony
and worry and concerns only a parent
can fully grasp.

how often have i run into my walk-in closet.
burying my face in a basket of clothes, weeping
over one of my children who is in a very hard place.
oh, Jesus is my best Friend. i count on Him.
He can do what no amount of money can. no
breadth of contacts i have to pull strings with.

no, we don't manipulate God.
but we know He is the only One who knows what
is really right for a certain time and place.

whether in the dark of night,
or sitting on the patio or driving across town,
it is so simple. in the silence of our thoughts,
we slip into God's presence and are comforted
as this powerful, strong Savior of the universe
wraps Himself around us, and promises peace;
that all is already covered.

to be "silent..." knowing God loves us and our
children more than we can imagine.

so you feel the sun on your skin? it's God.
have you noticed the tickle of breeze? God's
reminder that He really IS big enough to take
us all safely down the road. especially our children.

Monday, July 2

i happened to read some things i wrote about in the
first couple books. years ago.

"i love the word impossible...
like joy after sorrrow.
people being friends after being enemies.
rainbows after drenching rain.
a wound healed.
sunsets on quiet evenings after
hot, noisy days.
paralyzed, injured limbs learning to grow
strong and useful again.

forgiveness after wrong.
truth after fog.
new love-made babies.
birds learning to fly and own the sky.
bitterness turned to mellowness.
fresh, genuine hope...once abandoned.
people finding each other at right moments,
in unexpected , obscure places...
for God-ordained reasons.

i love that word impossible because my God
believes in adventure
and extraordinary mountains, and He dares
to be alive in a world crawling with terrible

He promises to be bigger than any impossibility
because He is love...
and love always finds a way through...
in time.

love isn't scared.
it builds bridges instead of walls.
it never gives up.
it always hangs on.
it waits with stubborn, strong hope.
sometimes even years.

love makes God alive in far more than human souls.
like sun and clear sky and drooping branches
and dark birds and color and design and music....
and the sound of water on a shore.

IMPOSSIBLE means that i,
an ordinary young woman,
can be something special and significant
in an enormous, hurting world.
i can be love where i live,
and that is Christ...
and He really does make ALL
the difference! "i love the word impossible!"

Sunday, July 1

have just watched as jerry sandusky,
of penn. state was convicted on sexual
abuse of little boys, and will spend the rest
of his life in prison.

no more drive-throughs to get a milk-shake.
or home-cooking or a stroll in the park with
his wife. and on and on and on it goes.

i'm not a pollyanna.
some, until they know me, may think
i'm shallow and cutesy in my passion for
Jesus. or wildly ignorant that the world can
be changed. that we CAN...yes...CAN make a
difference for Jesus. that our
neighborhoods are full of troubled, lonely
people just waiting for someone to hand
them hope. a promise for tomorrow. love.

no, not a pollyanna, but a dreamer.
undaunted. unfearful. determined....
and running this Race of life with all
the faith in the world, that because of
Jesus, you and i and love CAN change
the corners where we live.

just want us all to remember that sin
still exists. ugly and nasty. that sandusky's
sins were unveiled by courageous, little
boys who testified to the truth. and that we
all need to watch. and stand firm. and bow
before our holy, awesome God for grace to
follow the Cross and help fulfill His mission
of love for the world.

so....just in case you thought i am a pollyanna,
i wanted you to know that God's love isn't weak,
and neither do i believe we who dream with God
are. have a blessed day! ann