In the kitchenette at church there is a picture of me on the fridge from one of the Christmas Gala’s in year’s past with my mouth strangely gaped open.

First of all, I should note that over my lifetime, the number of photos where my face is not strangely contorted or where I have both eyes open at the same time, are rare. Professional photographers and amateurs alike do not have to pick between lots of photos to look for the best one of me; they just look for photos where I’m not flying one eye at half-mast.

It’s uncanny how many group photos I have messed up due to my innate ability to close one eye half way at the exact split second when the camera shutter opens and shuts.

I could not possibly time it to that precision but it happens so often with me that I’ve come to think of it as a special gift. Not to brag, but I’m sort of a photo ruining savant. Ask Nick Velharticky, who is ubiquitous with his camera snapping photos around the church, both candid and staged.

Actually Nick will be far too kind in his response, so just ask any of my kids who have been in photos I’ve ruined over the last 40 years. It’s really cool when your adult children brag about you but the one thing my kids brag about more than anything else is “You wouldn’t believe how my dad has one eye half shut in almost all our family photos!”

I’ve thought it might be kind of sexy to wear a black eye patch over my right eye but my left eye is as often the half-mast culprit so then what have I got? The obvious solution is that I shouldn’t be in the photos; I should be the one taking the photos. But if you’ve ever seen me preach you know that 9 times out of 10 I do something wrong with the one button on my mic. Someday I may be the one person on earth to see Yeti for more than a fleeting second but I can almost guarantee that if I whip out my phone to record it I will screw it up.

Back to the gape-mouthed photo on the fridge in the church kitchenette. I was in said kitchen earlier this week with co-pastor Rachael McClair and I said, “Wow, look at that when my hair and beard were still dark.”

Over Christmas break my grandkids got into some old photos when I was younger, fit and without gray hair. They were adorable in the way that they didn’t realize it’s not all that flattering when kids say, “Gampa, you look soooooooooo different now!”

Is it any wonder I found myself reading some verses for comfort that I haven’t read for a long, long time?

Proverbs 20:29 — “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”

Proverbs 16:31 — “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”

Isaiah 46:4 — God says, “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”

Nothing but love,
Mark