Back in 2006, I wrote on my blog about Ann Kiemel, whose writings had been such an inspiration to me over 20 years before. The post was titled “Ann Kiemel, Wherefore Hast Thou Been?”
Thanks to Google, other fans of Ann Kiemel discovered the post and began leaving comments (Google her name, and my post is near the top). Thus far, 82 comments. A number of those comments express the same sentiments I wrote in the post–that her writings had been a huge inspiration to them.
One person who had been touched by her influence wrote, “I personally feel America desperately needs to hear such a message again today more than ever.” I responded, “The thing is, to me, Ann’s message was her lifestyle, and that was the magic of her books–it wasn’t preaching about what we need to do, but stories of a person actually doing it. Not admonitions to go change our world, but glimpses of a person actually changing her world.”
Spiritual growth happens in different ways with different people. For some folks, listening to sermons spurs them on. Others, it’s their devotional time. Others, reading Christian books.
For me, spiritual growth comes from watching other people. From seeing solid Christian examples. I can point to various people I’ve known over the years whose lives left an imprint on me. Jack Wade, Marvin Price, Russ Birdsall, Ray Miller, Roger Reeck…some college friends…some very ordinary people in churches I’ve attended. I may have heard them preach sermons and teach classes, but it was not their words that remained with me. It was their Christian example.
That’s why Ann Kiemel’s stories made such an impression of me. I wasn’t watching her personally; I’ve never met Ann. But her little stories about ordinary encounters with ordinary people told me a lot about Christlikeness. In reading about one of her everyday encounters–which I could picture in my mind–I would get a better grasp on what God wanted me to be and do.
Examples like that affect me more than anything.
Ann Kiemel herself discovered my blog post, and left comments twice.
In July 2007, she wrote (in her trademark style), “please, never forget that life is NOT about me, but ALL about Jesus. my books are simple, as is my message still today. they have only touched your lives because Jesus put His hand on me.”
She also added, “i am praying that God will allow me to possibly write and speak again since my youngest is now graduated.”
Ann left another comment in May 2008:
today, i still believe utterly in sharing Jesus with my neighborhood. i speak the name of Jesus every day to someone. yes! i have built a bond with the lady next door. everyone at my grocery store. the bank.
i haven’t told most here that i am a writer. they know me as a single mother of four, very nice sons… and, every day, i look for ways to love people to Jesus. to love them. to speak His name. no one…who passes my way..do i just ignore. a warm smile. a touch on the arm.
i had my blood drawn, and a little, hispanic boy with a beautiful young mother was in the room next to me, sobbing. “no, mommy!!”
as i started to walk out the door, i unzipped my purse, and saw a $5, and went back to this tear-stained face, and put it in his hand, and told him he was very brave.
i was so happy i thought to do that. an ordinary friday in an ordinary city on a hard day. i was trying to be Jesus.
it is not hard. God gives me every idea. every natural response. my children’s friends.
i stepped away from the public arena because my husband was so ill (died 7 yrs. ago), and my children were so vulnerable and i didn’t want to not give them everything i could to prepare them for life.
Ann repeated her desire to return to writing. I hope that my blog post, and the outpouring of support in the comments, perhaps spurred her on. Let her know that lives were changed through her simple free verse.
Today, a note was passed on to me from Ann Kiemel. Ann wrote, “i’m thrilled for all steve has done. really touched me….the first time i read his column and the comments about me, i had to stop half-way through because i was so moved and crying. it just blew me away.”
Good. I’m glad those comments–most of them representing someone Ann never met, but whose life she influenced–blew her away.
Today, Ann Kiemel writes on her own blog. Perhaps you were touched by her writings many years ago. Or maybe you’re too young, and don’t even recognize her name. In either case, I encourage you to meander over to AnnKiemel.com. Read, and watch, a woman who–still–has a heart for God.