Distraction or Direction?

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” – Isaiah 30:21

I shared in my last post my struggle with borderline O.C.D and A.D.D. Being an obsessed perfectionist, I have long struggled to “let go and let God.” On the other hand, my distractibility makes it obvious that any striving for perfection on my part is futile. If anything good is going to come out of my life, it will be God doing it.

And He does. I have told many stories of how the LORD has worked wonders in my life through me, in spite of me, and occasionally using the very traits that I sometimes think render me unusable. For example:

When we were living in Manistee, Michigan, I went to St. Louis to visit my parents with our first child, Joanna, who was a toddler at the time. Since I never left home without my guitar, it was a juggling act getting through the airports, including a changeover in Chicago, but I wasn’t about to take the risk of checking either of them.

We had a great visit with my parents, and on the last day we were having a long conversation in the kitchen, when my A.D.D. mind was starting to stray. A radio was on at low volume, which everyone else seemed to be able to ignore. But not me.

Over our talk of the next day’s travel plans, I was hearing snatches of the news, and it wasn’t even the kind I had any interest in. Still, I couldn’t tune it out. The announcer said something about a bill that Congress was going to vote on the next day, a bill with letters and numbers that meant nothing to me. I only understood the word “bill.”

Or should I say “Bill”?

Let me tell you about my friend Bill.

When we had first moved to Manistee, I volunteered at the hospital there to go room to room with my guitar and sing to anyone who wanted a song or two. It was fun for me and a nice break from the medical routine for the patients. I made some nice acquaintances, and on rare occasions I would meet someone special, and we would develop a lasting friendship. Anna Moloney was one of those.

Anna was a cancer patient, tiny and pale, but with a smile and a glow about her that made it a pleasure to be in her room. She never dwelled on her disease – never mentioned it. She was mainly interested in others. She loved anything I sang, but she also had favorites, and when I sang a song that had an Irish melody, she loved for me to sing it with an Irish dialect. In fact, she insisted on it. She even coached me some; “Not ‘you.’ Sing ‘ye.'”

Over the months I knew Anna, I had a close up view of the journey she and her husband Bill were taking. We sang together, but we also prayed together, sometimes joined by a young worker, Gil, who seemed to have grown attached to Anna, as well. She was like a grandmother to him.

The day came when I showed up at the hospital, and the first person I saw was Gil, looking as though his world had just fallen apart. He told me Anna had passed away that morning.

After Anna’s death, Bill and I kept in touch. Since neither my parents nor Marty’s parents lived in the area, and since Bill’s children all lived in the Chicago area, he became like another dad to me. He would take me out to lunch, even though I was in the first trimester of my pregnancy with Joanna and sometimes couldn’t bring myself to eat much of anything. After Joanna was born, Bill was as excited as my parents and Marty’s, and after they had gone back to their respective homes, Bill became like a third Grampa. When Joanna was old enough to be left a for a few hours, Bill, who lived right across from the hospital, would watch her while I made my rounds singing, and when I was finished, I’d go to his house, where the highchair was pulled up to the table, and the three of us would have lunch.

It was nice having a “grampa” for Joanna, but when Bill told me he was moving to Chicago to be with his own children and grandchildren, I understood. We kept in touch by mail (Snail mail! Remember that?!), and I found Bill had a way with words, with his Irish wit, that was so engaging I couldn’t throw the letters out. I still have a stack of them in a drawer.

One day his letter had the bad news that now his daughter, a young mother, had cancer, and Bill was asking for prayer. He was also questioning the goodness of God. He kept asking, “Why her? Why not me?” And he really would have traded places with her, if he could.

As it turned out, he did.

Within a year, his daughter had been healed, and Bill was the one with cancer. I was sad that we lived far apart now and could only write him letters.

So, in my parents’ kitchen in St. Louis, with the news droning on about some bill in Congress, it occurred to me – Bill!

He’s in Chicago!

I have a four-hour layover in Chicago tomorrow!

To make a long story short, I made a few phone calls, and the next day Joanna and I were picked up at the Chicago airport by one of Bill’s sons and dropped off at Bill’s apartment, where the three of us had a wonderful visit, complete with singing and praying together, just like old times. I was then picked up by his daughter and whisked back to the airport in time to catch my flight to Manistee.

It was the last time I saw Bill before he went to be with Jesus.

P.S. I never found out if that bill passed in Congress. Don’t care.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the creative ways You drop ideas into my distracted mind and guide me in this serendipity of life. Thanks for blessing my life today. And give my love to Bill. Amen.

56 thoughts on “Distraction or Direction?

  1. Wonderful story Ann. I think God looks at us sometimes with our strengths, weaknesses and oddities of character and says” I can use that”…Our creative creator saying “you are who I made you

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I laughed all the way through this tour of your thoughts! Our Father is so wonderful, He probably even worked on that other “bill” in congress (if they let Him). πŸ˜…
    ❀️&πŸ™, c.a.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Beautiful Annie, and as you indicated, totally orchestrated by our loving God. You indicated that God had used you, “in spite of you” and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. I mean that as God just kind of took over and put it all together, with you being you, in it, as the connecting thread. Those realities speak volumes about the loving nature of our God and they are truly gifts that we never forget. Thank you for sharing, God’s grace towards us and others is beautiful. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Bill” or “bill.” Good story, Ann; so thankful that you had that one last time with Bill on this earth. When you mentioned Bill as the third “Grampa,” I thought of my brother Don, who went to be with Jesus in August. He was actually my kids’ second grandpa since my dad went to heaven before either of them was born; my son spoke of him that way at his memorial service.

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  5. Thank you, Annie, for sharing the marvelous way our Creator uses everything to His glory, even things we deem a “weakness”. They do not hinder the Master if we allow His presence to permeate through. This is a relatable testimony and a great one!

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  6. Another great story Ann. I love how the Lord uses you to share important lessons with the rest of us. Miss seeing you my friend. Hope to see you next summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ahh, sweet story! God often speaks to me like that too. He drops messages on my distracted brain, snatches of advertising, song lyrics, the news. Once I was glaring at my husband and the TV suddenly said, “be nice to your husband!” We both laughed! The timing was just perfect. I always get a confirmation too, a second nudge, a reminder or a bit of Biblical wisdom that helps me to know I didn’t just eat bad pizza or I’m hearing things.

    I’m so glad God gave you Anna and Bill.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. God really does orchestrate things in our lives, and by these little interruptions, He allows us to participate willingly in the plans He has made.
    Funny how those who carry His Life inside them are able to recognize His movement in the world.

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    1. Yes, it really was. Such precious people. I got a letter from their daughter shortly after Bill’s funeral. She shared that as she was driving home from the service she was feeling sad and discouraged about losing both parents and questioning the goodness of God. And then she looked up to see He had given her a double rainbow! (“One for my mom, and one for my dad.”) That reassured her that they were with God, together again, and happy.

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  9. I’m honored you would ask, Robert. Know that the Lord WANTS you to know Him, so ask Him to speak to you through Scripture. (Matthew 7:7&8) My advice? Don’t rush or try to cram in __ verses or __chapters a day. Just read until the Lord speaks to you. It may be 5 chapters, it may be 3 verses. If a verse catches your attention, stop and meditate on it? Who wrote it? To whom was it written? What did it say to them? How might it apply to you? I have a study Bible that’s very helpful with cross references and background information. These are a few things that help me, but you may want to try several approaches and see what works best for you.
    Blessings!
    Annie

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    1. Thanks, Paula. Marty used to tease me about singing for a captive audience, but he would also poke fun at himself. One day as I was leaving for the hospital he said that if there were any patients left when I got through, to let him know, and he’d come down with his harmonica and finish them off. πŸ™„

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