Friday, August 31

i have a very bossy friend.
and the problem is, she's very smart.
she never forgets anything, and watches
me as i stumble along in life. i mean, she
has something to say about the way i keep
track of my finances. about my addiction past.
the way i wear my hair. or all the little things i
need to work on. i have learned to be very
still and quiet. to listen, and keep saying,

"i'm sorry. i'm so sorry.
well, will you forgive me?"

"yes, i know i should have handled that situation
better. i fell short that day, for sure."

it is one of the most painful relationships i've ever
had and one of the very best. i can never measure up. never
high enough. her mission is perfection, i think. yet, how
many people who love us really tell us the whole truth as
they see it?

i feel as if i am in the military, and she owns me.
and it is taking all the patience she has to put up
with me. and when i miss something, i have to
figuratively be punished. you know, 100 push-ups
or two miles around the track.

i'm not sure how long this schooling is going to last,
but obviously, God put her in my path to try and shape me.
i truly love her, and she loves me. i am just realizing what
a great disappointment i've probably been to so many people.
my brain moves too fast,and i'm always switching from one
subject to another. i have a few gifts, but in most things, i am
genuinely, mentally challenged. probably it is this way for
all of us. we are each given a couple great strengths, and
the rest requires humility and hard work to cope with.

my friend and i are on opposite ends of a continuum.
i mean, completely different. yet i know she is helping God.
the way He desires me to be. and i am trying
to hang on to the love pieces so the judging won't hurt so much.

if you, too, have a friend like mine,
decide to be thankful. to try and embrace the truth,
and let the other stuff fall away. husbands and wives have
some of this grief, i know, but i think it is easier to hear the truth
from a good friend. marriage has enough struggles of its own.

well, i just want you to know i am
doing my best to be a better person every day.
and when i slip, there is always someoone right there,
besides God, who lets me know. smile. sigh. let's just
keep running this glorious Race, willing for God to bring
into our lives whatever He sees we need.

Thursday, August 30

only today
have i been able to read
all your beautiful comments and
thoughts. and see the contributions
some of you sent.

it's like salve on a wound.
a fresh morning sky.
friends surrounding me with love.
hope after darkness.
joy after fear.
despair followed by promise,

thank you for being in my life.
for loving me. reading my simple blogs.
running at my side. sharing your sorrows
and struggles, too.

when i can't go anywhere,
i can't find people who need Jesus.
encouragement. truth. love.

tell people around you that God loves them.
standing in the grocery line. or someone
waiting for the bus. speak it. people will
be utterly changed. trust me. completely
in awe. God loves THEM??!!

needing a car isn't nearly as difficult as
needing a new heart or kidney or liver.
or longing for a wandering child. a prodigal.
or having to move out of your house of 25 years,
and not knowing where you will go. but,

it's been hard.
haven't been to the gym in 6 wks.
or here to do blogs. alone. and i keep
trying to blot out the terrible memories of that
van suddenly in my face. crash. crunch. glass
breaking. rolling around and around. not knowing
when or if my car would stop.

i am absolutely positive that
my heading out the door, and then,
dropping everything, and going back in
to have my quiet time made all the difference.
i cannot remember EVER being filled with such
a sense of serenity as i did that morning the second
time i headed out the door. and that peace never
left me through the entire crash. i think it kept me
from tensing up and receiving severe injuries.

"Jesus paid it all.
all to Him i owe.
sin had left the crimson flow...
He washed me white as snow."

Wednesday, August 29

hear the drums.
the marching bands.
the excitement of the crowds.
the joy and promise of a future and a hope.
that dreams can live and troubles can be
turned to blessings and music can still the
noise and rowdiness of our lives.

i hear the celebration
of all those who have been touched
by the vast love of God. an armload
of groceries delivered to your front door.
someone willing to watch the children in a crisis..
a car that pulls over to the side of the road when
another car is obviously having problems. ask
Jesus to use you. to help you build the strains of
symphony wherever you go. in big moments
and small. making the world a better place for broken
lives around you.

still no car.
i wonder what God is thinking?
for today, i just need something to
get around in. i want to buy from an owner.
nothing fancy. but power locks and windows.
mechanically in tact. please pray for me. for
this car. that i will happily accept whatever
God gives me.

my identity used to be wrapped up in the kind of car
i drove. can you imagine?! i just knew people would think
i was more important if i had a cush sort of car.
i started with porsches and mercedes,
and ended up driving beat-up old vans that will would find at a
bargain. pitiful cars. no air conditioning in 107degree heat. once,
brock, colson , brandt and i crawled into an old van, heading
for one of taylor's basketball games. when i turned it on, the
entire front end, under the hood, fell to the ground. dropped onto
the asphalt. in one big lump.

well, today, my identity is completely in Jesus.
i have none. i am of no significance apart from Him.
absolutely none. may i be able to see this truth for
myself as i accept whatever God thinks i need to drive.

Tuesday, August 28

looking for another car.
i turn in my rental today.
my insurance gave me two weeks.

and here i am.

last saturday, a couple friends of mine and i
went out to used car lots, looking.
every car in each lot. 105 degrees.
nothing! just nothing!! hot and grimy and
weary and wondering.

i told my pastor's wife that when she
hears a big noise, and sees an old car pull
into the church parking lot, she will automatically
know i've arrived. i loved my kia sorento. it had
everything on it. taylor had found it for me two
summers ago when he was home.

life happens.
just like death.
in a second. a moment. and
everything changes. someone
walks into his job of 24 yrears, and
is notified he is being fired. "do not
show up tomorrow!"

a woman from facebook says she has
sent out 500plus job applications....i don't know
how often or for how long....but she is putting one
foot in front of the other. i'm so glad she told me
about herself. finding a job or a car that i can
afford is so difficult. today, i am going to the bank.
to the grocery store. getting whatever i need in
case i can't leave my house. without a car, there
is no where for me to go since i'm in the country.

i'm afraid. i cannot remember one day that i haven't
gone somewhere. errands or visiting someone or
heading for the gym to workout. and how will i look
for cars? or get here to panera's to blog?

"fear not, for i am with you. do not be
dismayed. I am your God. I will
strengthen you; i will help you; i will uphold
you with My victorious right hand." (isaiah 41:10)

whatever your needs are today,
and whatever are mine...we are commanded
to be CONTENT. that the closer we draw to Jesus,
the more power He infuses in us.

the accident was not my fault, but i was left
with some big problems. Jesus always stops us
when we are just roaming around. on some level,
self-sufficient. He calls us to bow down. to sit and
rest. to be silent and listen. so He can use what is
happening to us to stretch our wings and help us to
fly higher and farther for Him. to learn to be utterly
dependant on Him. we are waiting, Lord. waiting
for You.

Monday, August 27

it is such a challenge to get my body
ready for another day. wash my face.
eat. brush my teeth. decide on what i'm
going to wear. brush my hair out. put on
some make-up. day after day and year after

are you a morning person?
oh, i wish i were. i have a friend who
gets out of bed at 4:30 a.m. every day,
and loves heading out of her driveway
at least by 8 a.m. .

if i had a job at the airport, and had to
open one of the shops at 5:30 a.m. every
day, i would rather go on to Heaven. when
i taught school for two years, fresh out of college,
i hated having to fly out of bed. always having to show up
very early. day after day after day. on the
week-ends, i would set my alarm real early so i
could just bask in the joy of turning it off and
going back to sleep.

the only years i consistently ran out my door
at 5:30 every morning were the days i was in my
peak marathoning. getting out of bed and just
pulling on my shorts was the hardest. i loved
running ten or more miles before much of the
world was even awake.

it is not something of small effort.
it takes determination and discipline and
fortitude to get through 24 hours a day.
especially when life is hard and our children
are struggling and our health is compromised
and some friend has hurt our feelings and we've
lost our jobs.

Jesus promises to keep us in perfect peace.
He tells us to cast our burdens on Him, and He will
sustain us. that our hearts must not be troubled or
afraid. we are not to worry about what we will eat or
drink because He is with us always.

"Lord, our souls are cast down. lift us up.
smooth our wrinkled, complicated lives, and
may we shine for You. may we remember that
living is ALL about YOU. and praise. thank you,
Jesus, for holding the whole world in Your hand."

Sunday, August 26

i lie in bed and sing,

"as the deer panteth for the water
so my soul longeth after You. You
alone are my heart's desire, and i long
to worship You...."

"You alone are my strength and shield.
and to You alone does my spirit yield.
You alone are my heart's desire, and i
long to worship You."

a tear will slide down my face.
my heart will calm down.
Jesus is my Song. my morning Star
and evening Sky. Jesus is everything.

as warriors,
may we long for Him.
yearn for His presence.
hear His voice. and run
for the Goal. may all our hopes
and dreams be wrapped up in our
devotion to Him. the Savior of this
broken world and our struggling lives.

as warriors, may we always remember
that this is His Race, and we are here
simply to serve Him. to worship and bow
down. in humility and devotion and love.
and to finish the course.

Saturday, August 25

i read the line of a song:
"could we live like Your grace is
stronger than all our faults and failures...
so could we live like this and shine in all
the world?" (matt rodman)

it is evening.
car lights are turning on.
stores are lit from the outside.
i can look out and see the breeze
bending limbs. and every day,
at its close, i've been working on not
focusing on things i didn't get done today,
but on the one or two or three things i DID

as i kneel at night,
i'm painfully aware that it has not been
a perfect day. that i have sinned in word or
thought. that i've not taken the debt collectors
on,and once and for all, settled my payment
plans and pushed them off my back. i know
i could have given more. run harder. faster.

oh, the Blood of Jesus.
it covers all the things left undone.
forgives all the discrepencies. washes
away our fears and self-loathing and doubts.

"what can wash away my sins?
nothing but the Blood of Jesus.
what can make me whole again?
nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

"how precious is the flow
that washes white as
other fount i know...nothing but the Blood
of Jesus." (old hymn of the church)

each night,
may we all forgive ourselves for
all the shortcomings. for all the things we did
in earlier years that we wish we could undo. may
we remember we are all strapped with jagged, glaring
failures and humanity, and may we lay it all down
at the feet of Jesus. just lay it all down.
roll our burdens off our shoulders, and lay them down.

Friday, August 24

i'm thinking that many of you are physically
fighting battles. knee problems or shoulder pain
or feet that hurt. maybe even cancer or multiple
sclerosis or blindness. jan has some crushed vertebrae
and she has agonized over the pain.

here i am.
so healthy that 15 minutes after my car flipped
three times, the paramedic said my vitals were
better than his on a normal day. but the force
that propelled my car was the same power that
kept me in my seat belt, and the severe bruising
of my sternum has been really difficult.

i've fought so hard for my sobriety
these years, and even though i took pain
medicine the emergency doctor sent home
with me, i know when it runs out, i'm finished.
there is no going back. i'm going to have to
suffer because this is not an injury that just
goes away quickly.

"I will restore to you health.....and
heal your wounds." jeremiah 30:7

flow, River, flow.
rush Your loving, healing spirit
through and around all our wounds.
physical and emotional. take our pain
and suffering to wean us from the world,
and help us bask only, completely in Your
love and grace.

for any of you who are suffering tonight, i hope
you feel my arm around you. that i am not in any
big hurry to finish this Race, so i'll walk or stumble along
beside you. we will find victory together. cross the
finish line, arm in arm.

i can hear the angels singing.
the breath of God soothing and healing us.
pain makes me want to flee, but the choirs call
us forward. deepen our roots. and we raise
our arms in adoration and worship. knowing
healing is taking place every hour of every day.
allelujah. amen.

Thursday, August 23

i'm sitting in panera's, doing this blog.
there is a big a table across from
me, with these words on the back of his teeshirt:
"struck down but not destroyed".

a young mother i treasure has just learned
that her two year old son fits into the spectrum
of autism. somewhere in that diagnosis.
how vulnerable i would feel. my baby. my
pride and joy. with something extra difficult to
cope with in his life. fearful. where will this lead?
life is hard enough without a handicap. will everyone
still embrace him as much as always?

struck down but not destroyed.

another beautiful mother i know has four, little
children, ages five and under. on her first real
check-up since her latest baby, she found out she
is pregnant again. she feels overwhelmed! how does
she take five babies to the grocery store? or drop off
the oldest at kindergarten when all four of the others
are safely fastened into their seat belts, quiet? and
she has serious trouble with varicose veins that force
her to pull on tight, elastic leggings before she even puts
a foot over the bed to get up.

unprepared and unnerved and fearful and exhausted
and coping with morning sickness. discouraged and
confused but not ruined. not buried.

must run.
forgot a doctor's appointment.
but know i love you and Jesus is with us, and
victory is ours. Jesus is our Partner, running and
calling us to Himself. run and never give up.

Wednesday, August 22

"...You are magnificent!
You alone are Holy.
no one else as glorious as You.
magnificent! Jesus, You are worthy.
magnificent! You are so magnificent...
You're lighting up our lives..."
jonas morin and matt redman

my friend, raymond berry, called.
i always am changed every time he does.
he and sally are some of my dearest friends.
and raymond is always standing in the thick of
battle, helping to clarify the war for me.

he asked me to intercede re: something, and
then started talking about 1st samuel.
"the Lord who delivered me from the paw of the
lion and the bear will deliver me from this philistine."

that there was a long war between saul and david.
david grew stronger and stronger, and
saul grew weaker and weaker. that we are in
a war between the flesh and the spirit.

raymond feels the battle. he is in the middle
of it. and it is not fun or easy. and there are so
many unsolved problems and questions flying around
about where God is when we are trying to slug
it out, and fight the darkness. our money is gone.
our children are struggling. our youth has faded,
and with it, our strength to fight as vigorously as
we once could.

raymond then switched to phillipians.
"count it all joy."
all of it. the tigers and lions and sharks and snakes.

"be thankful in all circumstances..."
the accidents and debt collectors and broken health.

"rejoice always...."
back to praise. this is what our
journey is all about. not the war. never the battle.
it is always about gratitude and thankfulness and joy.
for the One Who always stands by us. Who does the
fighting for us if we will let Him. Who carries us when
we lose our jobs. Who comforts us when we lose what
we treasure. standing by. always standing by. as we
praise Him.

Tuesday, August 21

every day, i read your beautiful and
thoughtful and touching comments to me.
you have stood with me through some pretty
difficult times when my blogs have, i know, been
lacking. please forgive me for the moments that
i have lost sight of what our journey is really
all about....praising God and basking in His
power, knowing that He promises to take care
of everything else.

my 12-step class met last thursday night,
and the nine of us, plus our two leaders, are
growing and bonding. Jesus comes into our
room. seats Himself in our circle. and as we
share our brokenness and hurts and
victories, He is there. two hours later,
our roots are a little deeper. our faded spirits
have been revived. and the deep work of
healing and wholeness continues.

addiction once wrapped a noose around our
necks, and tied us to a tree of desperate cravings
to numb our deep, inner pain. but Jesus is all-
powerful, and He can deliver us. any and all of
us. i have chosen, with these others, to face all
the compromises and bent choices so that
genuine, healthy wholeness reigns instead of
some superficial sense of freedom.

"the Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of
trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him."
nah. 1:7

so run, warriors, run. pursue the path to joy
and hope and promise. i keep forgetting, at
times, that i am to run to Jesus with praise.
that this is what keeps my eyes lifted from my
grave struggles to the only One who can dry my
tears and calm my fears and resolve every

Sunday, August 19

taylor's birth mom and her husband
drove into town and took me to lunch.
coming clear from missouri where they live,
en route to see family and other friends and
taylor in monterey bay. it was wonderful.
their love for me and taylor and their generosity
always touches me.

brock's birth mom flew into dallas,
and stayed with brandt's birth mom. she and
brock had time together. they even flew to another
southern town and bought a horse for her husband
where they live in florida.

colson is in maryland,
the manager of a mcdonald's,
and he is having to trust God for the
right place to live. some day, i hope he can
share a place with his birth mom in nashville,
and help her with her children.

brandt has been deployed to puerto rico
for six months, and he tells me he almost feels
guilty to be so fortunate to end up with warm
skies and the atlantic ocean instead of afghanistan,
the original destination. jasmine and the baby
are still here, two hours away. thankfully.

and my children and i spend hours
talking and sharing. laughing. sometimes
sober, and my trying to guide them, and
at times, now that they are grown, they try
to guide me.

i have four of the most wonderful sons on earth,
and it is all because Jesus led four, beautiful, selfless,
loving birth mothers to give them life and lay them
in my arms.

are you a couple, longing for a baby?
is infertility a big part of your sorrows?
give this all to Jesus. give your yearnings all
to Him, and let's watch the sunrise together as
He answers your prayers. remember, God promises
to never withhold anything good from us. rise above
the seeming hopelessness, and believe today.
believe, and wait. give God time.

i believe in miracles
because Jesus gave me four of them.
never ever give up!

Saturday, August 18

i saw the sunrise,
and fresh joy and peace
covered all my doubts and fears.
as if Jesus walked into my room.
sat on the edge of my bed....and
pointed to all the papers stacked up
re: bills and the accident and my children
and what about another car?....and
He smiled at me.

and suddenly,
i knew again that He is the God of
the impossible and difficult and complicated.
He is the Lover of our souls. all the corrupt and
doubting and anxious parts. He is mighty, and no
one and nothing can harm or touch us unless He
allows it. and if He does, it is because there are
lessons to be learned and hearts to be humbled and
places where we need to fall on our faces and cry
out for more of HIM.

cry out and pray and listen and stop and
slow down and reach beyond ourselves and
our troubles to His powerful promises. to others
who are hurting. to the mountains that He can
level and the oceans of kindness that He pours
on us every single day.

"Lord Jesus, i long to be perfectly whole.
i want Thee forever to live in my soul. break
down every idol, cast out every foe. now wash
me and i will be whiter than snow."
(part of an old hymn)

today, Jesus wrote a song across my sky.
He opened my eyes and made me look at myself,
and understand that victory comes by praise and
thanksgiving. He led me into pools of warm, clean,
living waters. rain running down my heart and spirit
and cleansing me of doubts and shame.

today, Jesus put music
in my pores and soothed all my
sad memories and made my eyes shine.

Jesus paid it all.
every piece and particle
of our lives and imperfections.
He paid with His Blood, and
His Blood will NEVER lose its power.

Friday, August 17

God says we are to love the Lord
our God with all our soul and strength. (deut.6:4-9)

this is how we are to remember:

write it upon our hearts.
talk about the Lord when we sit at home
with our children. impress Him upon their hearts.

talk about Jesus when you walk along the road.
and when you lie down, and when you get up.
tie His love as symbols on your heads. bind His grace
on your heads. write His laws on the doorframes
or your houses and your gates.

we are to see Jesus in the trees that sway in the
afternoon breezes. in the sky and across the stars,
and in every face we look into. Jesus is written in the
eyes of hurting people. His arms reach out to the broken,
drug-induced man in the parking lot of best buy. feel His
hand on your shoulder. His kindness as He speaks. and....

EVERYWHERE you go, when you wear Him,
the world is touched. lives are changed.
and your city and town and school and church and
neighborhood will never be the same.

Oh, Lord, i love you. i do.
i never see my children without putting the sign
of the Cross on their foreheads. and sometimes,
they reach back and put the Cross on my head.

how great is the love of God!!!!
how magnificent and majestic is the very
sight of Him on others faces.

"He lives. He lives.
Christ Jesus lives today...."

Thursday, August 16

debt collectors.
they just have a way about them.
have you noticed? they start out real
friendly and apologetic, and when you
don't cave in and do exactly as they suggest,
they begin to threaten you. and if that doesn't
work, they hand the phone to another person
who is even tougher and more forceful.

i received one of those calls about a bill
from the root canal dentist. if i didn't pay
$300 by friday, then my account would just
acrue more and more interest. in fact,
a voluminous amount. and then, they
wanted $175 a month for six months...
with an automatic withdrawal from my
cky. account.

"please stop being so bossy. i am doing
the best i can," i replied.

not good enough. i don't know how debt
collectors get paid, but they must have very
exciting incentives to clean people out of
every quarter and dollar they have. finally,
i didn't, i didn't appreciate..these two
pushy, threatening people, and said i would
call back friday. that really flustered them.

in Heaven, everyone will be loving and sweet
and respectful and joyful. in Heaven, we won't
have anymore bills and collectors and fingernails
to chew on; no cavities or shots in our mouths
or car accidents or people who hurt our feelings.

doesn't that sound yummy?!!!
laughter and pure joy uninterrupted by honking
horns and nasty gestures and people giving us
dirty looks if we aren't moving fast enough.

and i'll never have to worry again about a big
van flying through the stop sign and hitting me with
such force that i flipped and rolled. in Heaven.
what is it really like? i'm just so thankful today that
Jesus kept me on earth for awhile longer after my
narrow escape last week. living is such an adventure.
even with debt collectors and cavities and impatient
people. and battles on every side.

"yes, be bold and strong! banish fear and doubt!
for remember, the Lord your God is with you wherever
you go." joshua 1:9

Wednesday, August 15

a beautiful, beautiful woman
sent me a check. right from the
heart of God. right when i was
drowning. when anxiety consumed

i know Jesus tells us not
to worry; that He wants us to praise
Him and not be afraid but trust.

"oh, you afflicted one, tossed with
tempest, and not comforted, behold
I will lay your stones with colorful gems,
and lay your foundations with sapphires."
isaiah 54:11

i have a child in crisis.
no matter how hard i try, i keep
remembering the van suddenly in
my face, and the crush of impact, and
flipping over and over. jan is not
well. you, too, have your sorrows and
fears and concerns.

i run to Jesus. i run into His arms.
i cry in His shoulder. i dip into the cool
waters of His promises. wash us, Jesus.
cleanse us from our humanity. lift our
faces up. make a way for us, Lord.
make a way. and give us courage
to walk in thanksgiving and praise.

"whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe."
proverbs 29:25

Tuesday, August 14

the 2012 olympics are officially over.
always, the summer olympics wrap up
with the men's and women's marathons.
obviously, my very favorite part, though i
watched all the events with wonder and amazement.

i had been downstairs, cleaning,
when i ran upstairs to see if the men's
marathon had started...only to see that
the runners were already 11 miles down
the course. a ugandan and two kenyans
were leading the pack. not a surprise.

suddenly, the cameras switched to ryan hall,
the fastest runner on the american team. he
was at the side of the road, forced to quit
because of some hamstring problems that
had developed as he ran. obviously, he
appeared extremely disappointed. as ANY
runner would be. none of us even consider
the thought of ever dropping out. we count
on blood and guts to the end, no matter what!
as i stood there, i grieved with ryan, though i
didn't know him.

my dear friend, rob moritz,
emailed me some background on ryan.
he and his wife are both world-class runners.
ryan finished third and fourth in a couple of boston
marathons. not shabby!!! he also has the fastest
american record for the half-marathon, and has
NEVER dropped out of a race in his entire career.
he and his wife, sara, are strong believers. please
pray for them today.

life is a battle.
the enemy slugs us at every turn,
and events happen to us that we can't
possibly understand in view of God and
His vast love.

i only know this:
Jesus reigns.
He never takes away.
He works good out of EVERYTHING
if we love Him.
He builds mountains out of flat, dry
ground. calms the oceans and someway,
somehow, always sees us through.

ryan and sara,
i believe you will laugh again.
that the dream has to die before it can
live, but it WILL live. that your sunrise
is coming. i believe. i believe.

Monday, August 13

what gives a mother more joy
than to build beautiful memories
with her children?!

taylor and i talked across the room
to each other in the darkness. about
life and his future and where he is now.
we took walks. shared every meal. and
went shopping at discount stores. my
son did not even own one pair of jeans.
he had worn the three i bought him four
years ago for college until they were shredded.
never told me. just gave things up to make
it. his face was flushed and radiant when we
made our last stop at a nike outlet, and he
found a pair of shoes for $44.

"mom, how can you do this....?!"

i laughed with such excitement and joy.
"mothers find ways, taylor. a mother's love
breaks through all the barriers and believes
against all odds that ways can be made; that
God can open all the windows and give. He
knows there is no real gratitude unless we have
needs, and then He pours out His blessings."

the amtrak (bus and train) trip home was long
and exhausting. i had parked my car next to the
station, and as i deboarded in lodi, and headed
to my car, i noticed a woman sitting on a bench
close to the railroad tracks. just caught her face,
and instantly, Jesus said, "i want you to speak to her!"

"oh, Jesus," i argued, "please don't ask me to do this.
i am so tired. so anxious to get home and out of this
unbearable heat. You don't really mean it is that important,
do You?"

but i know the Voice of God.
He's spoken to me thousands and thousands
of times. usually about me helping Him out in
this perverse world. so...i put my bags in the car,
grabbed my purse back out, and headed clear back
to the station. as i turned the corner, i noticed this
woman was now standing at the opposite edge of
the building. i approached her. smiling.

"hi, i'm ann. and i want you to know
that Jesus has commanded me to come
back here and speak to you. is everything okay?"

only then did i notice that she had a grocery cart,
with a couple of bags in it. she seemed a little agitated.
"i'm trying to find my money because i need to buy
some cigarettes."

"oh, i'm so sorry, but i don't have any cash on me.
well, wait a minute. let me check." i found $2.50,
and put it in her hands, smiling into her eyes.
"this is all i have. maybe it will help a little," i said.

she smiled back into my face.
"thank you!"

"well, i just want you to know that Jesus sent
me here to tell you He really, really loves you...and
that whatever it is in your life that is crushing you,
and breaking your hope is ALL covered by Him. He
told me to let you know that He has it all taken care
of. He has it under control. that you don't need to worry
or be afraid."

she gave me a wistful, grateful nod.
she let me know she really needed God, and
she would remember.

as i headed back to my car,
i was thrilled i could tell another about Jesus,
but my greatest joy was that i obeyed. what a
joy it is to know that amidst all my failures and
slip-ups and ordinary inadequacies, i had said
"yes" to Jesus. had been quiet enough to hear Him.
to believe that He would give me His words for
her when i got to her. and He did!

after the almost-deadly car crash,
i remembered this woman. and was so
grateful that i hadn't left this unfinished business.

that i had dropped everything, and had devotions
tuesday morning....receiving the
peace of God before i went out the door and
almost died two minutes later.

i don't want to die and not have
given Jesus my best. made Him first. and loved
others in His name. tonight, i roll around in His love.
drink it up. swim in its warmth. tonight would never
have come if God had not spared my life. soak
it up, dear friends. soak up the goodness of every
breath and every new morning sky.

Sunday, August 12

it just happened tuesday morning.
i had returned the night before from my
wonderful week-end visit with taylor in
monterey bay. starting to race out the
door to meet my friend at the bank,
i stopped.

no day works the way it should
unless it is started with God. putting
everything in my arms down, i went
over to my jean couch by the french
doors, and sat down. spending time
in the Scriptures .. reading my devotional
book...and yearning, before God, for His
blessings over my children and dear
friends. naming each, one by one,
i asked the Lord to touch. to forgive me
for yesterday's sins.

i dressed myself in God's armor.
my heart was quiet. calm. Jesus and i
on a fresh, clear morning. ready.

driving down the country road where i live,
i was filled with a sense of God's presence.
never suspecting. never imagining.
heading to the bank, and blogs to write,
my thoughts were filled with peace.
i noticed a van on the left side of the road,
at a stop sign. such serenity that i never
expected this could be the last few moments
of my life.

as i was about to pass this side road,
the van seemed to leap across my view,
and in an instant, was directly in front of me.
i did not have even a second to brake.
no room to. no options. i screamed,
and plowed into this fast-moving vehicle,
listening to the crunch and twisting of
metal and glass. my car flipped and began
to roll. with such force and power.

all my bank papers flying around me. my cell
phone and purse...and with a sudden, hard
thud, my car (2005 kia sorento) landed on its
roof, and i was hanging upside down.

i was so scared.
was i paralyzed?
would i ever run again?
suddenly, a kind-looking man
got on his hands and knees, and looked
into my window.

"please get me out! please..."

crawling up onto my feet,
i stood. dazed. in shock. my car
flattened like a pancake, yet i could feel
the sun, warm on my skin, and the slight breeze
on my face. alive. the smell of the warm earth in
my nose.

"it wasn't your fault!" a kind man called to me.
"you never had a chance. that guy pulled directly
in front of you." i could hear the sirens approaching.
my friends who i rent my little house from soon appeared.

the paramedic took my vitals.
pulse of 70 and low blood pressure.
he was in awe. "i'm twenty-two, and i'm
not even close to your good shape, and you
you just flipped your car!"

when others approached the scene,
not even the police officers, believed that i
was alive in that car. except for an injured sternum
(painful!!), i am fine.

car totalled. still shaken.
but alive. i kiss the face of God.
i bow and bury my face in the warmth
and power of His amazing love and care
and deliverance.

put your business affairs in order.
remember to tell your children and friends
that you love them every day. paint daisies
on the sky, and know that God holds the whole
world...even each breath we His hands.
He speaks life and He sometimes speaks death.
tuesday, He raised my arms to the sky. and brushed
my tears away with a second chance at life.

allelujah. allelujah.

Friday, August 10

be kind.
to the noisy neighbors.
the children across the street.
the slow check-out person at the grocery
store when you are in a big hurry.

be kind to those who are ill-tempered
and work at being miserable to everyone.
to the owner of the barking dog, and
the guy that just slammed into your rear

be kind to the screaming baby on the long
airplane flight, and the three-hundred pound
man who accidentally stepped on your foot. be
kind to those who are not exactly nice at all to you.
and to those who are the least attractive, and maybe
haven’t had a shower or bath in a week or two.

“be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as
Christ has forgiven you…”

kindness takes so little effort.
i’ve kept my children’s homeless friends
on our couches. helped the neighbor lady whose
husband is dying. helped single mothers who are
working at subway or walmart or mcdonald’s, standing
on their feet every day. and going home to feed their
own children. i just stick a $20 tip in their hands.
smile at them as if they are the most beautiful creatures
on earth, and remind them God loves them.

oh, i miss it a lot of times. i fail. have to go next
door to apologize for my lack of compassion. it seems
i have to ask someone’s forgiveness almost every day,
but it just paints a new chance at building a bridge.

we do one of two things with everyone we meet:
we build a wall or a bridge. i’m not sure about you,
but i want to build bridges. every day. with all who
pass my way.

be kind.
you never know who you
are entertaining. maybe
angels unaware.

and Jesus reminds us….
you clothe or feed or help
‘the least of these’, we are
doing it unto Him.

Thursday, August 9

when life happens to us,
things we never expect or prepare for,
just do the right thing.

a baby?
we are not married.
have big dreams. are
strapped financially.
just do the right thing, and
give this tiny, new life a fighting chance
to change the world. give this baby life.

being deployed?
for a long period?
now and then, you get time off,
and all the guys go off-base to a bar.
drink too much. forget the rules. maybe
that you are married, and a few cute women
gather around you? remember your vows.
do the right thing for God and your
family. stand apart when it is hard, and you
are lonely. time will pass and you will be so grateful
you did. God is the Rewarder.
if you are a recovering addict or alcoholic,
and you just want to shut the world out,
do the right thing. run. flee. call a friend.
go to the grocery store. and ALWAYS, always,
look for someone….anyone God puts in your path…
and give your life away.

sir, can i tell you about the greatest thing in all my life?
little boy, can i play ball with you?
ma’m, can i take your hand?
walk with you? listen to your troubles?

we just need to do the right thing.
and almost, without exception, the right thing
is the hard thing.

share love as warm as the afternoon sun,
and as clean as the sky at sunrise.
be the morning star and the evening peace
with all those who pass your way.

and remember
that God is the Rewarder,
always, of deliberately choosing
the right path and the narrow road.
He NEVER forgets to bless us in ways
beyond our comprehension.
way, way over and above what we can
imagine or hope for.

Wednesday, August 8

i have known a few people that seem almost
perfect, and then, those, like me, who slug it out
in the dredges of cold, hard battles of the soul.

love is the pure link. the pathway from wearied,
wayworn travelers to hope. untarnished and un-
altered and covered, wall-to-wall, with God’s
promises. i don’t know anyone who isn’t struggling.
whether you have millions and the world applauding,
or you are fighting, every day, to stretch the money.
and keep your children intact. maybe your marriage
is a battle, or you are alone, and yearn for someone.

gratitude is the heavenly choir.
counting ALL our blessings. naming them.
giving praise. we tend to never value anything
enough until we lose it.

i stopped at the restroom at the amtrak station,
waiting for my next train to taylor’s, and noticed
that a woman was having difficulty getting out of the
stall. i could see a part of a wheelchair, and i asked
her if she was alright, and could i help her?

“oh, i’m fine,” as she got the door to open.
“i am diabetic, and a nail poked my foot,
my entire leg turned to gangrene. they
amputated and have just adjusted me to this
prosthesis that i’m trying to adjust to.”

well, i smiled into her eyes.
“you are a very courageous woman.”

“i’m going to see my grandbaby. can’t
stand being away from him for very long,
so i find a way.”
a grandbaby!
well, i know all about the love and
devotion between a grandbaby and a
grandma. yes, i do.

one of those great blessings.
babies don’t notice if we are young
or old. all in one piece or put together
by modern science. they love us if we
love them. so…..

whatever your battles are today,
celebrate the gifts. remember that the
road called holiness leads us down dark and
glorious paths. thanksgiving is the secret.

“let your requests be made known to God,
with thanksgiving…..”

Tuesday, August 7

another month.
and it doesn’t matter how
fast i reach out to hang onto another
few days of a month…or summer…or a visit
with one of my children…or jan…or colben,
the clock just keeps moving. mornings dawn,
usually fresh and cool, and nights arrive.

and today is august 5.
i took the train to monterey bay to
spend friday night to monday morning
with taylor. his last semester starts in three
weeks, and he is finishing his degree in film.

i jumped into his spotless mustang, and we
headed to discount stores to shop. i was so
excited. mothers have to be creative to take
care of their children. i looked at my accounts,
and simply sold some art work from the days i
could afford such luxuries. it meant nothing to me
when it came to my son who has worked his way
through school, and worn the same clothes for years.

taylor’s jeans were gone.
i mean worn clear through. gashes in knees.
we bought jeans and shirts and puma socks and
a new pair of shoes after at least three+years of
his last pair. then it was late. we were starved.
and finished the day with a shared dinner and milkshake.

tomorrow will come too fast.
i’ll cry. i just know i will. i live for these
moments with taylor because they are way
too few and far between. i eat them, and chew the
memories, and replay the record of every moment
over and over and over.

motherhood is a school.
your babies are laid in your arms and
heaven just walks in and sits down
in your heart. along the way, you snuggle
and read books and kiss and ride bikes and
play and grow. then the world begins to teach
these most cherished lives in the world that
life can be mean and hard and disappointing
and shameful and tough.

and mountains rise,
and rivers run deep and music
lives on as long as we hang onto each other
and help each other and never let go.
two of my other children are having a hard time,
and we are the warriors that run the course with
each other. to the end. where victory reigns and
love endures. where God carries us across the
finish line.

Monday, August 6

every night, around 8 p.m.,
the t.v. goes on and i begin to
watch the olympics.

phelps with a silver instead of a gold
in the breast-stroke. the girls' gymnastics
team winning the gold but only after jordan
missed out on a chance to win a personal gold.

tears on the young, fresh faces of these GIRLS...some
15 and 16...russian and polish and american....when
they've spent their entire lives for these moments and
mess up somewhere. if i had never trained for a marathon....
and that is JUST a marathon....but i never woud have
understood the endurance and ups and downs and
wins and losses and injuries and all it takes to become
a strong athlete; to say nothing of the best in the world.

sports teaches grace under wrenching pressure.
poise when the worst happens. tears later, but
not in front of the audience while the performance
is in progress or just concluding. a stoicism,
seemingly, but behind all the bows and and waves,
are human hearts. insecure. unsure. wounded. often
laden with family issues a world away.

with a war cry and
often tears shining in eyes.
hands held. hugs. alot of isolation.
self motivation. and running the Race
to the end. because not everyone wins.
run, warriors, to win the battles of life.

and remember,
you are not alone.
we are ALL the same behind bone and
marrow and skin. broken, needing grace.
weak, yearning for strength. running, and
yet, stumbling. sometimes angry and unforgiving
and confused.

Jesus, our Partner, understands it all.
always forgiving. always, even out of seeming
defeat, raising us up. don't lose heart. we are in
this glorious Race and Heaven isn't far away.

"do not despise these small beginnings;
remember the Lord smiles to see the work begin."
zechariah 12

Sunday, August 5

well, i spent the night with tom and
jan in sacramento, and jan and i were up
early yesterday, pulling things out of her
(their) big bedroom. we bagged and boxed
and worked until some others came over to
step in our shoes. you know moving and jan!
well, i was jumping into her mindset yesterday.

tom reserved a beautiful, hotel room for us
here in lodi where i am. got jan out of the house
before she threw away all the things he wants
to keep. kiemels are good at that. today,
brandt, my youngest (fire fighter) is renting a
u-haul and driving in to sacramento this
morning, and he and tom will move everything
over to their new house.

brandt will be deployed on saturday for six months.
sooo hard on a mother. jasmine and the baby will
stay in marysville. no comforts in deployment.
roseanna's and natalia's parents had a big, yummy
cook-out for them saturday. swimming and ribs and all.

colson called at 3a.m. from maryland.
renting from his army buddy and wife. guess
friend drank too much and slapped his wife across
the face,and colson beat him up. the guy kicked him
out just as he had paid for august.

"mom, i'm homeless. scared. don't get paid
again for a week. what am i going to do?"

calls like this
drop my heart to the ground.
i get on my knees and start praying.
praying. praying. he called taylor, and
taylor (in school even) got him a motel room for
a night, and a few after, and colson is going to pay
him back when he's paid for everything after the first night.

i don't know when colson is going to do his laundry.
and i worry about his socks and underwear (yes,
mother stuff...sigh), but he's 24! on his own. he's
in manangement in mcdonald's and does so well.
makes good money and can find a mcdonald's job almost

a mother is a mother is a mother.
and a single mother stands alone.
pray for us. for our children.
there are SO MANY things we have to
depend on God to help us.

i weave around in my brain,
and go to sleep at night after reading about the
prophets and disciples and Jesus and the Cross and
somehow, peace tiptoes in and i fall asleep knowing
that God really does have the whole world in His hand.

Saturday, August 4

a friend wrote me this quote
by tullian tchividjian. billy graham's grandson,
with beautiful parents that i happen to know.

"Jesus plus nothing equals nothing."

it takes Jesus plus love.
Jesus plus one.
Jesus plus the Cross.
Jesus plus you and i and love
and dreams.

we are all Jesus has to work with.
His arms and legs and love and forgiveness
and hope. we are Jesus where we live, and
that is everything.

and it takes
Jesus plus sorrow. and
Jesus plus loss. and
Jesus plus shattering
losses and obstacles and failure
before His power really shines through.
before we really get a strong grip on His love
and His Blood and His Sovereignty.

for the Cross and
for Jesus who paid the Price.
and the Blood that washes all
things white as snow.

hallelujah, amen.

Friday, August 3

years ago,
on a dark, late night,
with children asleep,
God gave me some beautiful words
of love.

zechariah 4:10

"do not despise this small beginning
for the Lord smiles to see the work begin."

the small steps away from myself toward Him.
the simple hope that the sunrise was coming.
His joy that i was receiving His healing from
my addictions to performance and praise.

life is about small beginnings.
i had to learn to run a mile before
i became strong running ten; and ten
before i could run 26.2 miles.

a baby takes one or two steps
before he learns to walk ten.
and he speaks one word before
he can conquer fifty.

a husband and wife have to
take little steps before they can
really trust each other in certain
areas of aboding distance.

we have to learn to accept turning
forty years old before we can face fifty.
before we can keep working to accept the
increasing lines around our eyes. and
until we are seventy or ninety, every day
is a small beginning. with something.
and faith starts as a grain of mustard seed.

and love may begin with a handshake.
then honest talks. then confessions and
forgivenesses and hanging on to each other
or the wood of our souls to stay together.

remember small beginnings.
count them as significant and jewels
to the future of giant leaps and wide
reaches. Jesus just wants to see us start.
and He will take us,
step by step,
from there.

Thursday, August 2

for all of us today:

isaiah 41:17-20

"the afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there
is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst;
I, the Lord, will answer them Myself,
as the God of Israel, I will not forsake them.

I will open rivers on the bare heights
and springs in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water
and the dry land fountains of water.

I will put the cedar in the wilderness,
the acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree;
I will place the juniper in the desert
together with the box tree and the cypress,
that they may see and recognize,
and consider and gain insight as well,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
and the Holy One of israel has created it."

what can be more beautifully written....
so clean and fresh and pure....
as God's words? He truly
surpasses us all!!

feel His glory today.
look for Him everywhere you go.
and may He annoint your heads with
oil and fill your hearts with gladness.

Wednesday, August 1

have i ever told you that there is
a beautiful mother of four...expecting a
fifth...that washes and blows out my
hair every week for FREE? just because
she loves me. just because she is
beyond herself and her business and
her struggles, and chooses to bless me.

i rent my little house from her parents.
live right behind her mom and dad's big
house in the country.

so much is going on that roseanna
and i don't get very much one-to-one
time, so this has become it. i love this
young woman. REALLY love her. and
i don't know what God is going to do to
bless her for this, but it is going to be
BIG. God ALWAYS rewards every gift
of love we bestow, in His name, on
someone. anyone.

roseanna's sister is natalia.
and she is an anesthetician.
a very GOOD one. at the
same shop. i love her so much,
too. she waxes my brows. a luxury
i've never had before.

i told you about my toes.
well, every week, i just want them
painted. i like white polish during the
summer. it has been two years since
i've done it because i have to watch every
penny, and i've been too shy to ask linda,
a beautiful, asian girl at the salon how
much it costs and could she?

"roseanna, here you do my hair for free,
but if linda could just paint my toes..for $8..
would you feel badly if i gave in and let her?
she had an opening and i'm so down over
these 'running' feet."

"ann, of COURSE, DO it!!"

roseanna and natalia and linda.
they made my day
ALL your comments. last night,
i didn't see any hope for the future.
it was my 12-step night, and i could
barely say one word i was so broken
and close to uncontrollable sobs.
and hopeless.

i'm to be in this 12-step group because
the two leaders and the other broken and
growing and healing women and i are
cementing our wounds and pasts to the
heart of God. nailing, and re-nailing, all
our hurts and resentments and lost places to
the ONLY One who can make us well.

"a bruised reed He will not break
and a dimly burning wick He will not
extinguish." isaiah 42:3

beautiful. beautiful. beautiful.

.....we just finished our first bk. in the
meeting last night and vi and adella gave
us magnets for the refrigerator. i drew the
one that said "hope". God's reminder of His
vast and on-going love for me. and you.
and the lady next door and the teenager down
the street. and the guy sitting at the curb with
a sack of booze under his arm. love and grace
for anyone and all.

feel the breeze in your hair.
listen to the clean water running
out of the tap in your kitchen. smell
the scent of kindness and love.
and know...always...that God is God.