Monday, March 19, 2007

Read My Lips

I'm getting older, and not afraid to admit it. Fifty-five is staring me in the face, and that face sure shows a different reflection than it used to. When did that happen? and how?

John has pictures hanging in his office of me as a twenty-year-old. "You were such a sweet young thing," he says, with just a hint of wistfulness in his voice. Is it time to call the plastic surgeon, I wonder. No, that's nothing I would ever do, partly because of lack of money and bravery, but mostly because I'm perfectly happy (except for those ten extra pounds that seem to hang around. And I do mean hang around!) with the way I look. Am I a perfect 10? No way! Just an average-looking woman with a wonderful life.

But the other day, I looked like I'd had a run-in with a quack plastic surgeon. Do you remember Goldie Hawn's HUGE lips in the movie The First Wives Club? The collagen injections had gotten out of control and her augmented lips covered nearly half her face!

I got the same results, but in a much cheaper manner. Ten days ago, for only 20 minutes, I chewed a piece of gum that contained xylitol as one of the ingredients. Later that night, I noticed my lips were very tingly. The next day when I looked in the mirror, I saw my lips were at least twice their normal size, and I have big lips to start with. That's when my daughter, Christina, reminded me that I'd had the same reaction a year ago when I'd had gum with xylitol in it.

The extra fullness has slowly faded away, leaving in its place cracked lips that are peeling and gradually recuperating. I should be back to normal in a day or two.

But for those of you who suffer from the terrible plague of thin lips, I suggest you go out and buy a pack of Extra! gum and see if you get the same result I did. I could be saving you thousands in plastic surgeon fees!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Where'd The Stairs Go?

The other day we had the joy of having three of our grandkids spend the weekend with us. They live over by Pendleton, OR, across the state from us. Before John and I moved to Gaston, the Ashcraft grandkids were only 12 miles away and we saw them several times a week. In fact, I took care of the twins every day until they were 18 months old and began ganging up on me. (There's a reason God doesn't make 50-year-old women bear children, especially when it's two against one!)

The twins, Kaylee and Johnathan, are now 3-1/2 years old. Their big sister, Brenna, who will be 15 next month, was here with them, and what a help she was! She's going to make a great momma someday.

As most of you know, we have two young grandkids who live upstairs, so the cousins were back and forth from one level to the other. Poor Kaylee had a difficult time finding her way back to the upper story. We have a long hallway with the stairwell near one end, and she would consistently head in the wrong direction down the hall when attempting to go upstairs. Then she'd stop, lift her hands in consternation and ask, "Where'd the stairs go?" Time after time I'd point her the right way, only to have to repeat myself the next time she came downstairs.

I realized there was a spiritual lesson in Kaylee's dilemma. Sometimes I wander around, knowing where I want to be, but unable to see how to get there. I throw up my hands in consternation and ask, "God, where'd the stairs go?" The path for my life and the answers to my questions may be right in front of me, yet I don't see them. And He patiently says, "This is the way, walk in it." (Isaiah 30:21)

How thankful I am for a God who cares about the details of my life. For a Saviour who longs to show me the direction I should go, and will whisper in my ear when I need to turn right or left.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Northern Exposure

Last week John and I headed way up north to Vancouver, British Columbia. It was designed as a business trip, but ended up being a lot of pleasure, too. Other than an overnight camping trip last summer, it had been over a year since we'd been off together, just the two of us.

Oh, and 16 of our new best friends! We were all there for some intensive training on how to do church plants. No, it wasn't a horticultural forum, though there was a lot of talk about the importance of deep roots, core values, and a spreading outreach. Of vitality and growth.

The meeting focused on how to start a new church, from the tiny seed of an idea, to the mature growth that God brings about. Some of you may be thinking, "Aren't there enough churches around already? Why do we need another one?"

Good question! What I came to see more clearly than ever before is that each church has its own personality. Its own way of responding to the needs of the community around it. What you may like in a church may be unappealing to someone else. There is a need to have many visions of what the church can accomplish in our generation and culture. Some of these new churches will concentrate on how Christians can be involved in social issues. Others are reaching those with specific interests, such as the arts. Some are starting out as small study groups meeting over coffee at Starbucks. So many ways to reach so many people, while all are centered in the reality of the difference Jesus can make in one's life.

As John and I begin the new church plant, Master's Hands, in the small town of Dayton, OR, we are excited to be a part of a bigger picture. No two photos will look alike, nor are they intended to. The framing may be different, the focus varied, but the subject will be the same--Jesus Christ.

We're thankful for the exposure we received up north.