Friday, March 14, 2014

Something Beautiful, Something Good

The title to this post is the first phrase to a song that I heard sung by Ann Kiemel in 1974. 

"Something beautiful,Something good
All my confusion He understood.
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, 
But He made something beautiful out of my life."

Nineteen seventy four was the hardest year of my life at that time.  It was my first year of marriage, a time of adjustment, a time of too many losses, and a time of the deepest depression I'd ever known.  

This post is about my faith experiences.  There is no intention here to proselytize   I have no agenda that way. 

Growing up in the South, in the Bible Belt, I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church.  I was drawn to my faith in God at a very early age.  At around 11, I decided I wanted to be baptized, to show that I had given my heart to Jesus Christ.  In that church, my roots grew, and my faith was strengthened.  In 1974, I married my boyfriend of over four years.  I was quite young emotionally, and had a very difficult time adjusting to just about all aspects of marriage.  During that year, too, I experienced a number of deaths that were unexpected.  At one point, I worked both day and night teaching at a business college. We had bought a rundown, "hippy" house that even had a lava lamp that had dripped wax all over the floor. The house needed a lot of repair which we did ourselves or Jim and his Dad did.  I was a little girl literally, because I weighed about 85 - 90 lbs.  I really didn't like myself, and felt like a failure in marriage especially.  My doctor put me on the drug, Valium, to help me relax. Well, after about two weeks of that, I felt suicidal, and flushed the pills down the toilet.  This led to a deepening depression.  At night I would cry out to God to help me.  That's all I could pray as I wept gut wrenching tears alone in the dark.  

One day my mother mentioned that a young woman was coming to speak at our church, and that I might like to hear her.  Ann Kiemel had written a little book called, I'm Out to Change My World.  I bought the book first, and read it through in one sitting.  Everything in me resonated with this young woman's faith, and her relationship with God.  When I went to hear her speak, she confirmed in me that I needed and wanted a personal relationship with Jesus.  Through circumstances, I met Ann, and we became friends for awhile.  She invited me to her wedding in 1981, and I flew to Boston to be there when she married Will Anderson 

In 1986 when I moved to California, Ann and I stopped writing.  Our friendship drifted away, yet I knew that she had given me a gift that I'd always cherish.  

Recently, I read on Ann's blog that she was going into a rehab facility to withdraw from pain medicine.  Ann had a number of surgeries on her feet that were excruciatingly painful.  While in the facility, she began to get sicker and sicker.  Rehab sent her home, but she was too sick to stay, and had to go to the hospital.  Tests first revealed spots on her lungs, then metastasized cancer throughout her body.  Within another week, Ann at 68 years old was gone from this life.  I was and am still shocked that Ann is no longer on this earth.  Her twin, Jan, said this is the first time in her life to be without her sister.  Those who love Ann know that she is with her beloved Savior, and feeling healthy now, yet it is bittersweet that she is no longer here.  I put a message on Ann's Caring Bridge site sharing that I was praying for her, appreciated her, and will always love her.  Maybe she saw it, maybe not, but it was my goodbye with gratitude for the greatest Gift of all, my personal relationship with Jesus.  For me, Christianity is not about religions or denominations, but about that closeness with the One that extends grace and courage day after day.   

Here is a link to Ann's sweet, authentic memorial service.  I think you'll like it.