from an article originally posted April 17, 2014…
Thank you Ann—you cannot know the reach of your love in my life. I had heard the murmuring, the cheering, the championing of your words long before they met my eyes. I’m given to cynicism, and I wasn’t sure if we would be friends. My sister in law met terrible blow after terrible blow one year, and she sent me to your blog. She told me they were getting her through her dark season.
As I cried through your story, I met your heart and I knew we would know one another in this life or the next. You didn’t hide the edges of life that have met you in your living, but you gently used those words to reflect a greater story, a larger picture we struggle to see in the daily-ness of today. We forget to look, we forget to be thankful, we forget we live in community with the one who created us. The with us of Jesus is what you always remind me to look for in today.
When I was face-down and walking through the shadow of death, your words taught me to look. You were my champion. I could not despair when I named the grace that met me each hard breath, that still meets me in each painful moment. You never offered me prosperity, wealth, more, just do this one thing and it will all go away and be all better. No Ann, you taught me that at the bottom of me I could know something bigger, strength not my own, love unfailing. You fed me the incarnate Christ that overcame death so I didn’t have to look it in the face with fear.
Your words loved me, spoke grace, reminded me of the beauty of words and their ability to drip with goodness and grace. I love words, I love to write them, to speak them, to read them, and you use them so beautifully. It’s your art. You write words with song, beautifully, giving honor always to the One that gave them to you.
There was a day I was meeting with publishers. They were considering my use of words. My meeting of hard edges and speaking plainly of pain and grace and knowing great big Jesus love. I was trembling with excitement and fear as I headed to their office. I didn’t know what to wear to have this kind of meeting. I didn’t know what to say, how to act, if I needed to convince them that I was strong enough to find the words in the midst of my battle with cancer. Just before I walked into the office an email came through my phone. John Blasé sent me the words you typed to him. You sent these words to my publisher:
I read those words and sat silent. I know you are a mama like me, a wife like me, a follower of Jesus like me, but you are my rock star. And just to know you had read a single word I had written undid me. My champion, my friend, my teacher I had never met, sent words to these people that were considering my story, and by her loving me this way. The Hardest Peace found a place to grow.
I will never forget that email. The quiet that followed. I walked into David C. Cook stunned and off balance. Ann had read my words and was my cheerleader. I walked into the office speechless and simply looked at John, stunned. You quieted this talkative mama of four battling cancer and trying to find grace and put together a few words to point others to Jesus. Thank you, Ann. I first thought I would need to walk into that office and present some reason for them to bet on me, to trust me with truth, to be my champion. With your kindness, Ann, I simply walked in a sat quietly. My friend Ann had come before me and did all that for me. I could simply sit and listen to the team of wisdom encourage along an outline for my writing. I left humbled and so very encouraged.
I cannot tell you the number of times in my life God has used you to be that gift, Ann. You have lifted the light onto the beauty of the ordinary, and I name the graces in the mundane. You taught me, dear one, and I’m so very thankful. So thankful. Today I get to speak beyond the pain in my mouth to my friend John Blasé about the final edits to my book.
I get to struggle to find the grace to let the words go and find their way to the printer. I get to sit quietly and pray that God would use my feeble attempts at seeking Jesus in the harsh reality that is cancer. And I get to rest—a sweet rest after a lot of hard heart bearing in words.
I love you, Ann-without-an-E. You are a gift to me and so many. Be blessed this day, precious friend. If you haven’t read the gift of this dear writer, please take the time to learn from her generous heart. Those of you who meet here, how has Ann changed your heart and loved you well and taught you joy? Where is grace hard to see through the struggle of your today? Look; it’s there.