Saturday, November 19, 2005


Michael went backpacking a few times. I always stayed up (too) late when he would go away...because we usually went to bed at the same time. I have a hard time going to bed still. One time Michael came home early from his camping trip...because of a bear. Bears can be scary. From what I understand their presence, in close personal proximity in the wild, can make one's heart beat quite rapidly. Is this fear? Loss of focus? No time to blame? Desperately trying to figure out what to do?

I want to say I could bear up to this day. Michael used to pray that for people, that 'God would bear them their difficulty.' My day started well. I was doing some reading in Michael's makes me feel closer to him...he's with THE WORD now. I'm preparing to sub for a friend in a Sunday school class...taking a look at Satan. (Thanks for that topic K.B.! :) ) Just to know he is out to "kill, steal, and destroy..." He can't destroy Michael's witness. alskdfjlwkejfosi. Ack.

Jesus wins. Jesus won. On the cross He said, "It is finished." His work is finished for us....but yet His work isn't done, really. God SEES all the fruit, but it isn't all in....yet. He's still at work knocking on the door of people's hearts...still changing (for the better) those who know Him. Michael's earthly time is done...but the effects of his ministry linger. I don't know about you, but I am a changed person because of him in my life. He slowed me down. He helped me understand mercy...not as well as he did, but better than before I met him. He was the same at home as he was out there...maybe funnier. He loved to practice his story-telling. Even real-life the bear. One of the young teens that was with them had a brownie in the tent. Food is good...but not all food is good for you at all times. Brownies are good. Chocolate is good. Timing is everything. For some that are allergic to it...they have to wait until heaven. (If you can walk on streets of gold...surely there must be chocolate bunnies or something!!)

A good friend drove up from a nearby town today...a longtime friend...the kind you don't have to explain things to. She was sharing about her time in the Bible this week...reading about Joshua and how he and his army defeated people group after people group...the whole, women, children. This topic is frequently where a lot of unbelievers/skeptics throw in the notion, "So, how could a loving God..." I'm not here to get into that argument. What I do want to share is what God spoke to my friend about and how it impacted me. She pondered why God would do that, but then she saw a "bigger picture" of how we need to be "stripped bare" of all our sin--every bit. If we leave a tiny chunk then it distorts the lot.

It's like that story where the teens tell their mom that the movie only has a few bad things in it, and it really is okay. So, the mom makes some brownies and offers them to the kids. Before they take a bite she informs them that there is only a miniscule amount of cat poop in the batter. They got the point.

We can't get into heaven with any sin. That's where Jesus' FINISHED work comes in. He paid for it ALL. "For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:23. "but He (Jesus), having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God," Hebrews 10:12. Instead of whole people groups dying any more...He died...and rose again. He defeated death. Death, for a Christian, doesn't have to make him/her fear. No bears. There are people groups that have people dying...physically...some that haven't heard about Jesus. One of my sons wants to share with them about Jesus. He has his daddy's heart. He has his Daddy's heart. I read his college application, the part where he gives family history and then the essay about how his life changed on May 14th. What a bear.

I felt stripped bare today of desire to keep going. I just wanted to hit cry. My son, the one who has not cried yet, said, "Sometimes you need to." (?) Torn between not understanding how HE could make a comment like that and really wanting to cry out, I kept driving, tears pouring silently down my face. I had had enough of chauffering kids. This was the third day in a row of trip after trip from here to there and back again...and oh, yeah, first we need to pick up this to take it over there. I know people are willing to help, but with teenagers sometimes the message gets into 'central processing' late and one trip connects to another. Besides, who has time to plug in other cell numbers into my cell phone? I know I have those numbers somewhere. Please remember I am cell phone challenged.

Another friend encouraged me toward the blessing it was for me to be able to spend time with my kids while I was chauffering. THAT was NOT where my attitude was. All I could see was "the bear." Big, ugly...wait, bears aren't ugly...fuzzy (unclear), hungry, focused, determined to chew on me...

God met me. At the next stop there was another driver that was going where one of my "chauffees" needed to go. One trip eliminated. While I waited for all the band accoutrements to be transferred, I noticed a dad up the street playing catch with his little boys. Ours were that little once. Next stop.

At home my neighbor was available to help me pick up my van. (no major problem) I picked up another fare when I returned home and took him to counseling. I thought, "I need to let a pastor know I am at a 'had enough' point." He was meeting with someone and then out walked my counselor. He just happened to be dropped off early by his wife. I think the other guy in the office had a sense that God was chasing away this bear! Another "chauffee" didn't want to go the the evening activity...(another trip eliminated.) Time to slow least until the event is which point I return to pick 4 up and deliver one of my own to another function in a nearby community...with directions that are as clear as lights seen through a curtain of tears.

We passed the place where Michael's earthsuit is resting. Even in the dark I know...even in death you thought of others...sharing pieces of your earth suit to give others a better life here. You left me with that final decision, but I knew what you would want...I knew your shared that with me. I know what you want for your family and friends...for the children of the world...

You have your Daddy's heart.

With His's the only way I can bear this trip. To me, you went home early. I am thankful I know the "Author and Finisher of my faith." For Him, and for Him alone, as my son said in his essay, "we want to finish strong."

Thanks for bearing this WITH me,
Annie B.
p.s. So I get done writing this and have to go pick up a son at 1:30a.m. Okay, I learned my parental lesson about phone numbers and curfews...and my son learned that when there are no more rides to our town...something different should have happened. This bear of a day is done.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Fall out

Just writing. Grammar aside (I know that puts a kink in some people...but I am just putting the verbage out there today.)
We can have some windy days in Northern CA. Sometimes it is hard to tell from which direction the wind is coming. It's kind of like my swirling thoughts. Today is 6 months. Not the sheer black hole of the first day or the fog of the first months...just a day. But not really. The 14th of any month taps me on the shoulder. I tend to feel like a fly on the wall those did this day get here?

When the military calls it's troops to order they say, "Fall in." It's time for order...perhaps a set of instructions. I find it hard to get in line on the 14th. No offense to anyone with a birthday on a 14th. I do believe one day I will be able to rejoice and fully embrace the fact that God received Michael into his arms on that day...that he had finished with God's plan and purpose for him here. I'm still pondering what it means to be "finished."

I did something pretty spontaneous today. It was definitely more spontaneous for the friend I had go with me (thanks J.M.!) We went to a presentation on "decluttering your life." Okay, I know some of you are laughing at (with?) me. Are you ready for this? It was in Berkley. One of the presenters is a Psychologist...the other an organizer. It was quite entertaining (after we found the place). I still cannot grasp with all the intelligent ORDER in the universe that people are afraid to give Energy a can't have INTELLIGENCE. Enough on that. I just don't get it.

The organizer lady was helpful. We pulled a few thoughts out of the mix and have some material we can perhaps try to implement. Maybe we'll find a little order in our semi-chaotic worlds. In the was neat to use an experience to be a stepstool to further discussions about all sorts-of-parts... of life. Thoughts of Michael wandered in and out of the sharing for different reasons.

One of the things we pondered was the idea of sanctification. (Okay, maybe a little theological reflection.) When one becomes a the risen Jesus...the Alpha and Omega as He calls becomes sanctified, "set apart." It doesn't mean we are perfect here...just look at me...duh...have a way long way to go...learn...change...obey... but it is the way God now sees one of His. (Doesn't that sound good....HIS.) Now there is also the sanctification that is mentioned throughout the New Testament that gives more of the understanding of our sanctification being a process. [If you care to...see 1 Peter 1:2, Hebrews 12:14, John 17:17] It is a process of our surrendering to God's plan for us. It is a discovery, perhaps, in the outcome of obedience.

IF you are still with me, I am pulling a few strings of thought together...that it is so important that we remain teachable....that we remain connected and learning. The organizer lady talked about clutter being unmade avoidance of decision-making. (OUCH). Perhaps sanctification is letting God bring some order to our lives. I know the thoughts get murky here. My son, bless him, just reminded me of the time...

I have a lot of choices to make. My friend asked me "What big choices are you facing right now?" Lots of good questions like that tonight. Fortunately, a lot of the BIG choices are done. But life is full of a lot more choices...for you and for me. There's the daily choice of following Jesus. There's a lot of mundane choices...everyday stuff...with consequences...not to mention big decisions that are not every-day picking out a headstone. (So who's favorite thing is THAT???)

Today I had one child still sick at home. Another I picked up from school after I had the van towed to the shop and bought oil, antifreeze, and wiper blades. There was still a bank deposit and the third fax to a bank (same issue)...all of these choices had or would have consequences if I chose to not do them. All the while my brain swirls with thoughts about thank-yous, and Christmas letters, and watering plants and what is Michael doing today?

Maybe the fall out of this lecture was a good thing. I tried to sanctify some time to learn something that might help me simplify my life...processing out the stuff about energy and today...a windy fall day...where God can sort out the thoughts and bring His fresh perspective on the day. NOT living yesterday or tomorrow...just today...the 14th.

Closing as oddly as I began,
Annie B.

p.s. Happy Birthday to my sister....on the 15th!
I gave away 3 shirts today. Thanks G.W...I'm almost ready to do another drawer. Both kids are feeling better this evening and my youngest watered the plants. "Order arms."
Many thanks to the Women's Council!!!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ideal Neat Freak

I got a 3 1/2 hour nap a couple of days ago. Guess I needed that. My children must have known, too. They were extraordinarily quiet...sometimes that's okay!

I'm not a neat freak. My mom likes to tell me that I am a "frustrated type A." In my ideal world I would love to have things orderly--you know--in the place where you expect them to be. (Yes, you can complete the next sentence...) People...where you expect them to be...

Right now piles are ideal. Just put things where I can, where it's easy. I'm tired. Michael's diplomas STILL sit in the chair in the bedroom. What do I do with them? It's pointless to put them at the church--it wouldn't be fair to whoever God leads there down the road. Maybe there is a place here...not much wall space. My oldest doesn't want a 'shrine.' But, Michael was my best friend next to Jesus. To pack the diplomas away makes me feel he is a non-person...just a part of history.

I've been reading parts of his story--from his (recent) journal. His emotional anguish over the mental illness of his adoptive mother (now deceased) and it's effect on him is heart-wrenching. Unwrapping, peeling the layers of that 'onion' amidst ministry and family. It wasn't ideal for him.

Life does dish harsh realities, but is that God's ideal plan? I am so under a pile (I see a theme here) with the human pain of my loss, my children's loss, your loss, your griefs besides is hard to step back and see the larger reality of hope, of a new day, attempting to make a difference in the world...(with the sting of realizing it will have to be a story...plan...without my Michael...)

He was my Abe Lincoln--a story man--an emancipator for so many people. Celebrating who people were/ embrace their see the wonder of the Creator...the One who set the stars in the sky and called them by name. The One who loves us with an everlasting love. He wants us to spend eternity with Him--

Now that's IDEAL.

Our Pastor made a comment about God's love on Sunday. He said, "The love of God compels us to meet Christ at the cross." What do we do there...embrace the Truth?...return to the things that bring us "comfort?" Stand afraid because we feel like we have to forgive someone first?...Look for our own way?

I don't know what to say right now except that I am compelled to meet God at the embrace His love says I have to accept His suffering for me in order to get through my own because it is He that will carry me through this pain to the other hope. If I don't have Him, then I don't have that is guaranteed to be at my side passing through this waterfall of tears...tears that tear and push me down into the water...where stones are polished smooth like glass...

Is it simply my world, my pain? No, I see yours. I read about yours--new health issues, new(er) deaths, new trials...the picture grows. We really do come to a crossroads in life... Someone Bigger than all these events in our lives. Someone who created order (hallelujah).

Do you think God is a neat freak? We've sure made a mess of things. I see His order--the stars are in the same place every night--hey, I saw a falling star this past (me?) If He is a God of order, is it logical that He sees/knows a way out for me through this difficult season in my life? In my family's life? I believe He does. I believe He IS. I believe He is my hope.

Hope I can cling to.


Trying to allow my grief to be what it is...NOT neat...
Annie B.

P.S. I've said I will share some of Michael's stories. Pray as I process the piles and discover the treasures.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Staff Retreat Lake Tahoe

No catchy title, but an event, another an amazing place of God's choosing.

Our Senior Pastor shared with us the first night about God's sovereignty...His sovereign plan, His sovereign purpose, His sovereign importance. He reflected on Psalm 57 which David wrote as he was fleeing from Saul. I don't question God's sovereignty, I've shared how I felt the blanket of it from the very beginning. I accept it, but I want so desperately to understand it. While the weekend helped me to settle into my acceptance of God's plan, it also opened up an avenue of pondering keeping God's sovereign importance out in the front. God has compassion for me, He is my refuge and I can hide "under the shadow of his wings..." (Psalm 57:1b) but He still remains God. I can feel comforted and protected while I heal, but God still is in the all-important work of showing people Himself. He is bigger than my situation, but He loves me tenderly through it.

I guess it is perspective. Across the lake there is a large sheer face on a rock (hillside?) If one were to stand right in front of it, it would probably look pretty imposing. From this side of the lake it adds a different "texture" to the whole composition of the shore line. Then there is the size of the lake. It's a decent sized can see the opposite shoreline (the weather was cold, but beautifully clear!)...but when you learn about the DEPTH of the lake...that is perspective. Perhaps a perspective on God's love...from which...if we know Him...nothing can separate us.

In the Bible, the book of Romans, chapter 8 verses 38 and 39 say, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I continue to ponder the whole thought of "understanding." A dear widow friend said she gave up trying to understand and just lets the grieving be what it is. I appreciated that. Then I read Job 28 and I started pondering again about wisdom and understanding. What Job heard about wisdom and understanding didn't give answers to his pain and suffering. And so I continue to ponder. "And he (God) said to man, 'The fear of the Lord-- that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.'" Job 28:28 I usually settle back on my life verse, "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understandings. In all your ways acknowledge Him (make Him known) , and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5,6

Perhaps that brings us back to His Sovereign Importance. If I participate in making Him known (trusting Him), He will be directing my paths. I can see the sheer face in the shoreline and not be overwhelmed. "Why in the world does He want to use me?" His point's about the perspective of His love. "For God SO loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16.

After the first evening I asked myself the question many ask me, "How is Annie?" (I haven't figured out how to make indents so you'll have to bear with the way this just lines up on the margin.)

She is listening


seeing the lights on the distant shore

the lighthouse

the steady beam of light



light in the darkness

Darkness seems so much more prevelant

but the light wins

changes it

cracks it open

pierces it

He was pierced

It changes us


Longing for a distant shore



I continue to ponder. I am appreciating this time of sabbatical...November... Your hugs are precious. Knowing what God is teaching you is uplifting. We need each other. And the world needs Jesus.

Until the whole world knows,

Annie B.

P.S. Here's where I'm headed next: Check out Job's pondering in chapter 28. I am fascinated by the gems. Literally and figuratively (my pictures...for sake of discussion). What does God have for us in suffering? To learn to see Him? What are we willing to set aside to see Him more clearly...with a healthy fear?

Other thoughts: An Instant vs A Moment

Barns and Noble ideas


Neat Freak (not me)

Maybe I'll weave some of these thoughts together, but for now I am tired. I wrote our Christmas letter last night. Lonnnnngggggg thoughts. Thankful for His peace...and REST.