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This was going to be a particularly difficult day. Pressures at work, a long line of demands had been queuing up for months, responsibilities were pushing the limits of our sanity. My bride and I were comparing notes and it was going to be a tough day to start the work week.
On top of our regular routine we have a major trip coming up in a matter of weeks. Details of overseas travel are horrendous! We had to find time to invest in that preparation.
Departure times and dates are already getting tangled in our scheduling. Today we would have to make sure we made those adjustments. Double booking ourselves is an inconvenience for everyone and could easily undermine our efforts to be effective at all of our responsibilities.
We both heaved a deep sigh of dismay, loaded up our car with our bags for our day and drove off into the dark morning for our long commute. My thoughts were lost in our need to get over the financial hump of needed changes, travel expenses and time investments. If I could I needed to think about relieving my bride of the pressure she was feeling.
Now, we discussed possible drastic changes in our circumstances. What dramatic changes could we live with if that meant the relief of life pressures? There were no easy answers.
Then, we rounded the arching on ramp to the Interstate freeway. The Houston eastern skies were waiting to cut short the threatening discouragement. In front of us the Creator was putting on a show.
Clouds burst out of the east, pointing to the west. Behind those finger shaped clouds were the indescribable colors of the divine palate, splashing reds, oranges and yellows in balanced effect. Blue skies in the background were pushing the loud colors , pressing the daylight splendor.
We both smiled at the interruption to our concerns. The God of all gods was breaking into our worrisome souls. It was sensational sunrise.
He was starting the day off with a splendid artistic masterpiece. In massive swathes of colorful strokes that were changing by the minute, we could only watch as He finished up the waking of a new day. No words but just splendor.
We got the message. What did we really have to worry about if He was in charge? Now, we had a day to look forward to instead of dreading.
photo credit: yvonne fong photography
Our move to Houston had a number of priorities on our relocation list. The normal items of finding a home, establishing myself in my new job, finding a new job for my bride and of course, finding a new home church. This last item was not the lowest on our priority even though it comes last on my list.
During our visits to Houston we not only shopped for a place to live and find a house to buy in the area that we chose to be our home, I asked a lot questions about church recommendations. My list for churches that others were excited about was growing longer. Now, it was time to systematically make our visits and trust God to lead us where He wanted us to serve.
Essentials on our list for a church to call home were simple. There was doctrinal alignment. Worship vibrancy was on our list. Most importantly we wanted a church home where we would be able to love our pastor, support him and his family and be a couple that he could count on as the church moved forward.
We seemed to visit churches forever. Each time we like so much of the many very good churches in Houston. Yet, we just could not connect with our list of essentials.
Then, we met Pastor Gregg Matte of Houston’s First Baptist Church. He was on Sabbatical the first time we visited HFBC. In the meantime we roamed the city visiting all of the churches that people recommended to us.
When our list ran out we heard that Pastor Gregg was back from his sabbatical. We chose to visit. We were blown away!
It is like meeting an old friend and connecting right off the bat. We met for a Dr. Pepper break, he invited us to their Christmas Celebrate and after a short decision discussion, my bride and I went forward in December 2012 and joined the church.
After years of serving as a pastor, cheering on other pastors, encouraging broken pastors, standing by the side of besieged pastors we are solidly in our Pastor’s corner and doing everything we can to honor his life and ministry. Often our friends in far away states in California, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Tennessee ask how we like living in Houston. Our response always includes the great reality that we love our church and our pastor. That’s the way it should always be.
photo credit: yvonne fong photography
When I checked the weather, the data took my breath away. Today was a scheduled bicycle ride day. In Houston the weather for bike riding makes year-round peddling a possibility. This news, however, could toss a wrench in my day-off plans.
The temperatures were down to 45 degrees. In Houston terms that is very chilly. A 5 mph wind calculates into a wind chill of 42 degrees. On a bicycle with the increased riding speed of 15mph that would feel more like 40 degrees. Brrrr!
Now, it was time to think and remember where I stored my cold weather riding clothes. 40 degrees is about my limit for comfort when it comes riding a bicycle outdoors. Anything colder means that I have to carry an ice pick and stainless steel flask filled with hot chocolate.
My base layer was set. All of the gaps for exposed skin were closed up. Good socks fit into my riding shoes.
My riding jacket was ideal for this kind of weather. Of course my long finger riding gloves were essential. My last item, however, eluded my searching.
That is one of those rarely used items that you relished on your last cold weather ride. But, my short term memory was no better than my long term memory on this search mission.
I looked in boxes upstairs, downstairs, garage, closets and miscellaneous containers. There sure are a lot of miscellaneous containers around our house. Each one is filled with really useful and valuable stuff. One of these days I am going to sort out and organize all of it.
So, I paused to think. Where would I have put that one last cold weather piece of clothing. Ahah! With a quick step into the garage and a look inside my gear for motorcycle riding, I pulled out that special items, Balaclava!
No, it is not a Middle Eastern dessert. There are no nuts or honey with this piece. Instead, it is made from bamboo, making it tough. It is light weight and just enough coverage to make it comfortable for my head not to freeze during a cold weather ride.
Now, I was ready. I pushed off and settled on to my bicycle seat. Soon I was getting into a rhythm for riding. The exposed parts of my face felt the chilly temperatures bite into my tender skin. But, the specialty clothes that I wore kept me very comfortable.
It was a reminder that the world that the Creator gave to us has its down sides. But, with some great choices a careful pattern of dress could easily protect us against the elements. Keep on enjoying His presence and the good feeling of a brisk morning ride.
photo credit: brucefong photography