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fullsizeoutput_1ad3Stepping off the carousel of life is risky. Who knew it was spinning fast? The stationary ground grabbed my feet. The abrupt change was startling.  Left knee smashed my right knee. Yeow! That hurt.  I stumbled but with cat-like reflexes, my landing was like sticking an Olympic gymnastics landing.

The spinning world of work, obligations, deadlines, and meetings faded away.  Family and friends came into view.  Our plane landed with a little bounce on the Oakland International Airport tarmac.  My bride and I gathered our belongs and stepped into a busting metropolis that many would find hectic, chaotic, and even unfriendly.  But, we grew up here.  It was familiar.  This was home.

A chance to catch our breaths came at the curb.  Our shuttle to the car rental pickup area was running slowly.  We cashed in on our first chance to run through the schedule.  It was like looking at our work planners.  There was tons to do just like our careers back in Houston.  The activities were just different.

Old friends from decades long ago were part of our Christmas season.  Relatives on the other side of the family were on our calendar.  Each evening we rehearsed where we would be the next day.  Soon we couldn’t remember where we had been or who we had seen.  Now, it was just about who we would see the next day and where we would meet them.

It was sheer fun!  Old friends had eyes that had not changed over the decades past.  Their smiles were filled with eagerness to share.  After all we had tons of moments to relive together.  Our miles apart had stolen those times to share together.  Introductions needed to be made.  Children and old friends needed their lives filled in and colorized.  There was an occasional pause when we told of sad news, deaths, or abandonment.  Why does life always have to include pain?

We talked on and on.  Time was no friend to these interchanges.  My watch reminded me that we had to be off to the next gathering.  We smiled. We frowned. We hugged and shook hands.  Promises to keep in touch flowed freely.  Hope made us optimistic.  Maybe this time we would keep those promises.

Old friendships never die. They never stay the same.  Over time life keeps on getting richer and richer.  Miles separate us but friendship keeps us together.

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24129915_10154330375522614_4886734873588727424_nThe detour from our normal carpool route home was not much trouble at all.  It gave us a respite from the stressful torrential traffic escaping downtown Houston and flowing like an endless flood to our home in Katy.  My momentary duty was simply to serve my wonderful bride of 40+ years.

A second grade teacher is always on the look out for “stuff” to enhance the learning experience of these little tykes.  Colleagues are constantly sharing discoveries that bring vivaciousness into the classroom. Then it’s off to discover where to acquire the props, visuals, and inter-actives for my lifelong educator soul-mate.

We found the store.  It was still open.  The Texas cool breeze was kicking up.  I zipped up. Then, I opened the car door for my wife.  He arm slipped around mine. We huddled against the cooler temperatures and trotted into the store.

She as on casual exploration.  Like many teachers, she was into browsing not only for her objective but also ready to pounce on any other curiosity along the way.  I was content.  That night I was just the chauffeur.

Wandering the aisles was just a time-filler.  When I fancied a longer look at something, I did. Often I would just stroll the aisles.  The SALE sign, however, drew me close.  I didn’t make it that far.

A smile arrested my attention. Automatically, I stopped and turned my head.  It wasn’t a mistake.  I smiled back.

With gentle hands, I lifted that creature up close to my face. It was the most adorable puppy in the world.  Carefully, I turned him around and around.  Soft, cuddly, and pleasurable.

Of course, the price tag was missing.  I carried my new friend to a salesperson. How much? Let’s check.  He was no help. I went back to the display counter and found his twin.  The price is the price. Sold!

At the register, the fast-moving clerk paused to hold the puppy and express her feelings, “Awww…” Snapping back into reality, she smiled, complemented our choice, and went back to ringing up our total.

The walk back to the car was my chance. “Here, this little guy is for you.”  I passed the cutest puppy in the world to my bride.  Her look was delight with wonder. “Just-because” I grinned, “Just because.”

That’s what love its.

uber lyftMy travel tastes are simple, uncomplicated, and straightforward.  Diva-stuff has never entered my mind and never sits well in my soul when it happens on those very rare moments.  Separation from people is not my gig; rather, identifying with the common person is my arena of comfort.

Travel makes me face the discomfort of figuring out how to get from point A to point B without any glitches.  Usually, public transportation from the airport to the hotel works.  If the hotel has a shuttle that is one step better.

Simple isn’t in the city planning schedule of the older cities of our nation.  Hotels don’t always have a shuttle to the airport either.  That’s a mystery!

Enter the private shuttle car service.  Some like the first and largest of those services.  I have looked at the competitor and much more preferred their business model.  When my assistant suggested that I try a phone ordered service for my trip back East, I hesitated.

In my office I am one of the least techie types. This new transportation option would depend on my smart phone skills.  With a smile I let my assistant put that feature into my travel plans.

My personal faith is locked into the sovereignty of God.  After all, if he is god, then he must be all-powerful and exclusively determinative over all matters.  I might as well learn to put that conviction into faith practice with something as simple as my transportation challenges in a distant city.

My assistant even gave me a link for an online tutorial.  Again, the techie option was necessary.  After viewing the online introduction, I downloaded the app and practiced.  She came in to check on my progress.

Smiling, chuckling, and grimacing I was off to the airport for a rendezvous with my responsibilities.  On the curb of the airport pickup area, I sent my request for a ride.  Just like the tutorial, I received a response, affirmation of the driver, his picture, and a real-time map of his en route travel to my pick up point.

We had a great conversation, discovered many common interests, and arrived safely at my destination.  “J” was a refreshing part of my stay in the city of business.  Now, I’m a veteran of private shuttle car rides.  Me, Mr. non-techie simple kind of guy, is hip with the transportation style of the modern age.

IMG_0488My email box showed that I needed to give some attention to incoming messages that had been stalled in quarantine.  Some inquiries were sales calls.  I didn’t to see those.  But, then, Dan has sent me a message.  I wanted to see what was up with him.

My email filters require that I click on a delivery option if I saw that a legitimate message had been tied up.  A simple click sent that message on its way to my mailbox. There was even a beep when it was delivered.

Dan wanted to know if I had any interest and time to come down to the radio station and record some Christmas 60 second Gospel presentations.  I wrote back immediately and agreed to make room in my calendar to record these moments.

I opened my Bible on my computer.  It was time to start a file for five 60 second talks for a clear Gospel presentation.  This was the fun part.  Christmas verses in the Bible are great reminders of the miracles that are a part of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 9.6 speaks about the birth of a child, the son who is given as a gift from the Father.  He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  These are majestic and grand names.

The story of Mary is etched in inspired Scripture found in Luke’s Gospel.  The virgin gave birth to a son.  This miraculous conception was not impossible but historic so the Son could be born to die for all the world.

Micah 5.2 reveals the prophesy of Jesus’ roots out of Judah and His destiny to rule over Israel.  God makes a promise to ancient Israel and fully intends to keep it.  His character requires nothing less.

Christmas is all about the Christ child.  He was born as the answer to all man’s trouble with sin.  In time Jesus would die for the sins of the world.  He will pay the price for our transgressions.  Then, once made savable, we can then by faith accept Him as our Savior.  What a gift! That’s the heart of the Christmas story.  Merry Christmas!

No one in town believed the weather report.  How could it be? Snow in Houston?  Give me a break!

Michigan was our home for eleven years.  Snow was our staple.  It was never a matter of whether it would snow.  Rather, it was just a matter of how much would fall and when it would start.  Most important was when it would melt and how soon could we expect to thaw out.

Tuning up the snow blower was a date on the calendar.  Checking on the snow shovels was an annual event.  The clothes hanger by the garage door was now filled with winter clothes, mittens, scarves, and woolen knitted caps.

My neighbors waved when I changed the oil in the  snow thrower.  The spark plug was clean.  There was no reason to change the air filter.  Fresh gasoline was the last chore in preparation for Old Man Winter.

Soon my wife and I would trade that Michigan unspoken look, “Yep, it smells like snow.”  Sure enough, like we were dubbed with the gift of prophecy, the snow flakes began to fall. We loved the beginning of the snow season.  It was in the middle of this arctic blast that we began to long for the warm rays of the sun. Don’t tell me that we don’t know snow.

But, here in Houston, Texas? Ha!

Travel up the elevation scale and you might be able to catch a lonely snowflake on your tongue.  But, take your time.  5,000 feet might just be a start. Were our meteorologists just pumping up the wish list?

2017 was already a banner year.  We survived the ravages of Hurricane Harvey.  The Astros thrilled us with their first World Series Championship.  Could this be the first year that we experienced snow since moving to Texas? Whoa!

We drove home after another 14 hour day.  It was half past nine.  The headlights captured a familiar but out-of-place sight.  They were dancing in the beams, appearing out of the night sky.

They splashed on the windshield.  The splat was a memory of winters long long ago.  It was snowing!  It was snowing in Houston, Texas!IMG_0469

 

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