Words from my heart
The Hiebert Library at Fresno Pacific University invites faculty and staff to write about books that have shaped their lives. Although I’m a former staff member, I was asked to share an essay. To read others, please click here.
One little book changed my life—one little book written by one ordinary girl who believed in God and Jesus and love. I discovered hi! i’m ann: one girl’s witness by Ann Kiemel while visiting Hume Lake Christian Camp. I was in my mid-teens when I remember standing by the circular book display in the gift shop. Slowly, slowly I spun the display, captivated with the world of words at my fingertips.
Ann’s words were different from any I had read. She used lowercase letters, and sentences were broken into short lines that created long, narrow paragraphs. Select words were printed in staircase fashion or left dangling alone . . .
and ellipses were used . . . often. But it wasn’t the unique formatting that drew me.
It was Ann’s fearless belief in God and his love.
“i’m a young girl
with a simple, young heart
in the middle of a . . . very . . .
very . . . big . . . world.
but i’m going to change my world
you’ll see . . . because
i have a giant of a God inside of me
and i’m not scared”
Ann spoke with strangers in airports, planes, cabs—wherever opportunities arose. She’d ask to sing little songs. One gentleman replied, “alright . . . if you can keep it down kind of soft.” So she’d sing, sharing the good news that Jesus could make something beautiful of their life. Her message was clear . . . God’s love offers hope, “hope in the middle of war and chaos and fear” because Jesus lives.
And she’d ask, “will you help me spread that word to our world?” I said YES!
Ann’s stories flowed into my meek, tentative heart. They awakened the reality that God could use me, one ordinary girl, to spread his love—and I didn’t need to be afraid. As I matured, life became more complicated. But Ann’s words, rooted in my soul long ago, have continued to remind me that “simple” is beautiful. Not always easy, but beautiful.
I still say YES to God and Jesus and love.
YES to smiles and hugs and kind words.
YES to changing my world!
“you see, you just can’t stop love.
love never gives up.
love pushes through the barriers.
love always wins.”
Taken from hi! i’m ann: one girl’s witness by Ann Kiemel. Copyright 1974 by Beacon Hill Press. Used by permission of Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City. All rights reserved.