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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Prosperity (05/11/06)

TITLE: Deep Perceptions
By Beth Muehlhausen
05/15/06


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Deep Perceptions

Ann’s eyes functioned independently; she had no depth perception. In the midst of a tiring or stressful situation, one eye might carelessly wander to the side rather than focus on the object at hand. The effect could be either curious or startling for an onlooker – depending on the circumstances. From Ann’s point of view, the resulting mixed visual messages only matched the illusive, inner confusion that controlled her.

Misperceptions defined more than her vision. Everything about Ann seemed imbalanced or somehow slightly askew. It was as if an inner discrepancy divided her body and soul. While she was brilliant and well educated, employers repeatedly fired her until she retired for good in her 30’s. The needs of others motivated her compassionate heart, and yet she often seemed overbearing or socially inept and so found herself isolated and alone much of the time. She jogged and swam marathons to develop a strong cardiovascular system, but still became plagued by debilitating, chronic allergies that kept her indoors for weeks at a time.

Ann appeared to be anything but prosperous. Her messy house was plagued by a nightmare of deferred maintenance issues. Cobwebs, leaky faucets, crumbling plaster walls and peeling linoleum floors surrounded her. When her stove broke down, she used a microwave or countertop toaster oven to cook her one meal each evening – rather than purchase a new major appliance. Other people seldom initiated contact, so she built a loyal relationship with her dog. As a gifted photographer, she regretted the fact that she could not afford to buy film or pay for photo processing.

And yet, Ann maintained hope and sought God with a vision for total healing. She was a person of deep spiritual convictions and perceptions.

The year Ann celebrated her sixtieth birthday God changed her circumstances. A benefactor in the extended family stepped forward and donated enough money to allow Ann to continue to live independently. This same benefactor purchased a computer and digital camera for her. She found a new church home where she felt unconditionally loved and desired, perhaps for the first time in her life. The pastor accepted her; everyone there accepted her. Ann “saw” life through a different lens, a supernaturally clear lens. Her false identity - worthlessness – was redefined from the inside out.

Many things stayed the same. Her house still smelled musty; she continued to struggle financially; people avoided her. But Ann also began to outgrow her internal limitations. She accepted and believed in herself. Even more than that, she trusted God to prosper her soul in the midst of depravity.

As she followed God’s lead, Ann broke free of certain limitations, one small step at a time.

A woman named Trish saw through Ann’s undiagnosed social disabilities to discover her heart, and became a new best friend.

A sorely neglected nursing home resident needed help, and so Ann contacted a local attorney to instigate major reform that affected every tenant living in the facility.

Two local businesses hired Ann to make follow-up service calls on the telephone, allowing her to earn regular income.

The church welcomed Ann’s participation. She stepped out of her comfort zone to play the saxophone with the praise/worship band, and also authored a column for the monthly church newsletter where she shared nuggets of discovery and truth.

Ann’s feelings of inner “solitary confinement” diminished, bit by bit, and she made strides toward wholeness…until cancer took her life and she left to be with the Lord at the age of sixty-six.

Ann’s six years of prosperity were not decided by money, education, acquired skills, social status, or anything external. Her measure of success was a matter of faith, humility, and expectation…and deep perceptions. She sought first the kingdom of God* - and then believed, truly believed, that with Him all things are possible.**

My sister Ann left behind a legacy of spiritual “depth perception” to redefine prosperity…as a condition of the heart.

______________

* “…do not worry about…what you will eat…or about your body, what you will wear…See how the lilies…do not labor…If that is how God clothes the grass of the field…will he not much more clothe you…?…do not worry…But seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (excerpts from Matthew 6:25-34)

** “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27)


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This article has been read 980 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laurie Glass05/20/06
I would imagine this was not an easy piece to write. I'm so glad she had those last six years where she was loved and encouraged - prosperous in ways that mean so much more than money. You held my attention throughout and my heart went out to Ann.
Jan Ackerson 05/22/06
This was absolutely wonderful! I wanted to know more and more about Ann, and by the end, I felt as if I did know her, and I miss her already.

One small word choice quibble, but I could very well be wrong--perhaps "deprivation" instead of "depravity?"

What a fabulous character study.
Joanne Malley05/22/06
Such a deep lesson here! Stories like these have the most meaning when they are close to the heart. Great job. Blessing, Jo
Ann Grover05/22/06
What a wonderful tribute to Ann.... I felt a little like I was reading my own biography... so many similarities, right down to the saxophone. I'm so glad she found a prosperity that transcended a shallow interpretation.
Joe Moreland05/22/06
What a beautiful portrait of a disparate life turned rich through the blessings of the Lord. I love that you illustrated for us how her life was changed by many, many small blessings from God, and not just one big, life-changing event. You showed us that it's never too late to grow into the person God wants us to be, and that, perhaps, is the most important lesson of all.
Lynda Lee Schab 05/22/06
This entry held my attention but I have to admit my first thoughts upon reading were that I wished you would "show" and not "tell" so much about Ann. But I realized then you wouldn't be able to give all the necessary information for your reader to understand the whole picture of Ann's life. Then, when I got to the end, it all came together and I was touched. Knowing this was a real person - and a relative of yours - made the story even better for me. Well done! Blessings, Lynda
Anita Neuman05/22/06
This was a lovely tribute to Ann! I was a little distracted at first by your "telling" the details instead of showing them - but as I continued reading, it made more and more sense. You used the "telling" to create a bit of emotional distance, thereby "showing" how isolated Ann's life was. Brilliant!
Linda Watson Owen05/22/06
Oh, this is a wonderfully told story of such a special person! Beth, you wrote this beautifully. I couldn't tear myself away from it once I began reading! Thank you for sharing Ann with us. She was so blessed to have you as her sister.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/23/06
You did a great job on this piece. A beautiful tribute to your sister and to the God she learned to trust.
Rita Garcia05/23/06
Wonderful heartfelt story, great job!
Cassie Memmer05/24/06
Beautiful, heart-rending story. I connected with many points in it as I'm sure others did also. Wonderful writing. Thank you for letting us get to know Ann.