Friday, November 22, 2002

Last night I went to see Ashley Brown. We had a great visit. We sat around in her room while she showed me picture albums she is putting together. Very cool stuff. Her mom and dad came up and we talked about life, the world, and how it can all change in the blink of an eye. And then it was time for me to go. As I walked downstairs I ran across Tanner. Tanner is Ashley's 9 year old brother. He began telling me about a song he had written for Ashley. He showed it to me. As I read it I was shocked. It was titled, "Jesus." The topic is... heaven. I asked him to read it to me and he did. And then he sang it to me. His mom had to leave the room. His dad chewed on his lip. I raved about the song to Tanner. He ate it up. And then I told hm that I have a friend that can help him record music and put the song on tape so he could remember the song he had written for his sister while she was very, very, sick. I took my leave of the Brown household knowing that God is doing something special in this little family. A crises beyond compare is turning their home into a place where Jesus is showing up on a regular basis.

Speaking of Jesus showing up, I saw her tonight. Yes, her. Tonight I "saw" Jesus in the form of a female high school student. We call the event "JPL-Dress For The Mess." I have been doing various forms of JPL on Thursday nights for 25 years. We have been known to throw sardines at each other, blow egg yokes in each others mouths through a tube, eat entire chocolate cakes face first, and too many other odditys to mention. We have even bobbed for banana chunks in Raspberry Jello. Did you know that if you stick your face in Raspberry Jello for extended periods of time your face will turn red? It will. Trust me. I am one of the few people on the planet that know this.

Our latest edition of JPL took place tonight. I was short on adults and long on kids. That's been the norm for a decade or so. It is no big deal. We get through it, usually with the building intact and no serious bodily injuries. But this night was just... different. A lot of kids that I do not know have been showing up lately. Tonight I had a kid with tattoo's from his wrists to his biceps. One of my junior high school girls was hanging on his arm. I have no idea who he is or where he goes to school. He was nice enough. He just keeps mistaking his skin for canvas. Some of my regular kids are pierced in odd places so I guess I can handle a tatoo or 5.

Anyway we started off the evening with an old favorite called "Wink-em." It's an goodie until you play it for five minutes. They you remember why you hate it. You go home with no knees. So we shifted gears and began playing "Steal The Bacon." We played it and played it and played it. In the middle we stopped for pizza and cokes. Later we played some "Fruit Basket Upset" too. No, we didn't break any chairs. The trustees can sleep well tonight.

When it was all said and done I called all of the kids together. I read them scripture about how a woman lacking wisdom is like a fine gold ring in a pigs snout. They seemed to like that one. Especially the boys. Then I read one about how a man lacking wisdom is walking in the darkness of death. The girls applauded for that one. So I talked to them for a few minutes about wisdom, what it is, how to get it, and why you might want it. Then it was time to pray. We shared a few prayer requests. I finished them off by telling them how Ashley is doing. All is going well except for "The Great Wig Hunt." Nothing has turned up yet. They are working on a place from St. Charles, Mo. I can't help but think about what it must feel like to stop worrying about saving enough money to go to Disney World and saving to buy a wig for your child with Leukemia instead. We live in a land of extremes.

Finally we prayed and I told them that they should go home now and be back on Saturday for the "Rake 'n run." They all left happily, noisely, except for one girl. She lagged behind. I don't remember ever meeting her before. Her name is also Ashley. This Asley asked me how much hair the other Ashley was going to need. I told her, "Alot. A full head of the stuff." I asked her why she wanted to know. She said, "Because I have the same hair color that she has and I want to give her mine." I looked, and yes indeed, her hair is a pretty good match. The length is right. The color is nearly perfect. I asked this Ashley if she knows the other Ashley. She replied, "No but I have seen her and I know who she is." I thanked her very much and told her that as wonderful as her offer is it really would not be necessary. I am sure a store will turn up a good fit for the other Ashley. She looked a little disappointed. Or maybe a little cheated. She said, "Ok, but here is my email address. if you decide I can help please mail or call me." And then she turned and went home.

What do you do with a kid like that? How can you ever wrap your mind around that kind of sacrifice? Several adults have contributed of their own free will and I have no delivered to Ashley's mom approximately $850 toward near hair for Ashley. That is quite a sacrifice. And then one kid... one little high school girl... trumps them all with an offer of her own hair. For free. For a girl she doesn't even know. Why? Because she loves. It is that simple. Andit is that complicated. I will never tire of watching God do what He does in the life of a kid. When He gets their heart and mind... ANYTHING can happen.

God bless you Ashley #2, wherever you are. Please... keep your hair on your own head. We will find some for Ashley #1. And please know that your heart touched the slightly jaded heart of a youth pastor tonight just when it needed touching.