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If at first you don't succeed, skydiving might not be for you.

– unknown

We went out for lunch after church yesterday and the waitstaff started singing "Happy Birthday" at a nearby table. I thought I heard someone say, "101 years!" I squinted at all the occupants of said table but didn't see anyone nearly that old. When one of the servers came by our table, I asked if I'd heard correctly. "Yes! She's 101!"

Our mouths dropped open. She did not look a day over 71! Clear face, good posture, pretty hair, and a soft smile. . . If it wouldn't have been rude, I would have loved to snap a photo of her!  

My next thought was how stark the contrast was between this woman and a 63-year-old woman we met in Armenia. When we were introduced to that woman, I was just as shocked. She looked 83! Isn't it odd that she looked so much older than a woman 40 years her senior here in Canada? And yet maybe it's not all that odd. Life in Armenia is difficult at best, and this woman had been though many hardships. Then again, the 101-year-old woman at the restaurant may have looked younger than her years, but if she was born in 1920, she has no doubt seen and been through things I cannot even imagine. 

Life takes each one of us through different paths, different terrains, different climates, different challenges, different vistas. Our scars and wrinkles and limps and bumps are all different. It doesn't matter how we got them. What matters is that we accept them, learn to live with them, and see them as gifts, because each one means we lived and grew and learned and kept moving. 

So, you know what? Don't worry about what you see in the mirror, whatever your age. You don't need to apologize for your scars and wrinkles, for the imperfections that seem to stare back at you. You're just right. . . just the way you are. Give yourself a smile and go have an amazing day. :)


TV SHOW: I've been enjoying the early seasons of Worst Cooks in America on the Roku channel. At first I thought it was going to be a whole lot of exaggerated goof-ups, but these rookie cooks are sincerely trying their best to learn and improve so they can advance to the final round. I'm finding the show entertaining and educational at the same time (I love learning new cooking tips!)

In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul wrote: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

What treasure? What clay jars? What power? For those of us who believe in and follow Jesus, the metaphor is deeply meaningful. 

In Bible times, it was customary to conceal treasures in plain pots made of clay because they did not attract attention to themselves and to their precious contents.

It is the rare person who doesn’t often think of himself or herself as a “clay jar”—an object of little value or beauty. But what a precious treasure we possess within us: the gospel, the good news. Our awesome God, who could shout the gospel from the mountains or write it on the sky chooses, instead, to entrust His truth and light to us. We can either grumble about the containers God gave us. . .or we can rejoice over what He filled them with. 

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (vv. 16-17).

I’m learning that in admitting my own powerlessness, I find God’s strength in my life. It is when we surrender our broken spirits and bodies into God’s hands that a wonderful transformation takes place. He may not change the circumstances that bother us or make us anxious—but He WILL change our hearts and our attitudes so that we can see the incredible work He is doing in us and through us.

Trying to be in control of our lives usually doesn’t produce great results. Trying to patch up and polish our clay jars may make us feel better for a few days... but we will soon be dissatisfied with ourselves again.

Instead, we should “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (v. 18).

You are not worthless to God! Rejoice in the treasure He has given you.

whimsy & wisdom from the world wide web

From the same people who brought us Worst Cooks in America, here are ten faux-pas to watch out for in the kitchen. 

Remember when I told you how excited I was to be able to interview Master Penman Jake Weidmann for Inspire magazine? Well, now I'm excited to share that article with you! Flip through this digital version of the fall edition to page 86 and there it is. (If you're interested, I wrote another profile, this one of a TV anchor in Florida, and it's on page 74.)

I've mentioned Patti Townley-Covert before. This lovely friend, whom I met over 15 years ago at a conference we both attend almost every year and who has become one of my closest confidants over the years, is getting ready for an awesome book launch: her gripping and insightful memoir that I had the privilege of endorsing. Go to her website to learn more about it. If you sign up for her newsletter, you'll get to download an exclusive colouring page designed by me! :)

ERSATZ

(adj) serving as a substitute

There's at least one person on this mailing list who will recognize this word from the title of a Lemony Snicket book. :) 

Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn.

– William Arthur Ward

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