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IMG_4335There is a steady feed of videos and pictures that come our way from our daughter and son-in-law.  We never tire of watching the action or taking in the details of the pictures.  The excess of 1000 miles of separation between us and our grandson is salved by these digital exchanges.

We love being a part of his growing up.  Every day he is changing.  His size and his locomotion are the news of the day.

Once we visited and he was a mere infant.  The next time we visited and he was crawling like a spider from one place to the next.  On this last visit he was on the verge of walking.

Progress is a special reason to celebrate every day as he grows.   So much of life is wrapped in growth.  Progress and new developments give us a reason to cheer.

When he was an infant and his little body was all about rest, I looked forward to the day when his smile and laughter would make us all treasure the joy that he was bringing into all of our lives.  Videos give us a chance to be a part of those moments.  His laughter infects the cheer center of our souls.

Whether he is looking at funny birds, entertained by animals at the zoo or taking in the comical otters at the Aquarium, we love to hear him laugh.  He is all boy so his climbing adventures always include spills and falls.  When he takes a tumble, he bounces back with laughter and tries the feat again.

A distraction enters into view and he stops to look.  Curiosity is filling his brain with all sorts of entries into his life experience.  Creation is all about differences and variety.

He is easily amazed at new things.  They make him smile.  His countenance is all about the thrill of experiencing life.

Some day I will give him the Grandpa lessons of life.  I will have the thrill of filling in the details.  When his spirit is stirred and he loves what he is learning, there will be no comparison of satisfaction.

Next, I am dreaming of our conversations.  The questions are on their way.  Those inquiries are moments that I am going relish.

They will be forays about life, reasons for this and how these things work.  That is the world of grandfathering.  I am ready to give my heart to this bundle of smiles.

photo credit: KB photography

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Copy of IMG_2946A wonderful season has swept over the land.  It is a change from the blistering hot temperatures of the summer.  Now, the coolness of the new days settles us in for the long commute into work, the bustle of getting ready for school and the remarkable days of beginning everything new.

Fall is a favorite time of year.  It is the season for planning, anticipating and enjoying.  Our calendar rules the day during this time of year.

Emails fly with relatives who are hundreds of miles away.  Our fun conversations map out on the schedule when our times-off can correlate with the holidays.  We have to get on to the airplane schedule and set up arrangements for family time.

Special meals are the topic of so much conversation.  Favorite dishes, sumptuous recipes, unique sweets and by-popular-demand main courses are highlighted.  I get hungry just reliving the conversations.

The grocery stores are decorated with seasonal produce changes.  Often I first notice the price changes.  Favorites that were so common in the summer are becoming scarce and much higher for a lot less.

These delectable choices like asparagus, peaches, nectarines, artichoke, cherries, blueberries and plumes are disappearing.  Now, the few that are still available are smaller and the servings are in noticeably smaller quantities.  A short season of fresh corn on the cob signals this seasonal transition.

Now, the Autumn options began to make their appearance.  Wonderful winter squash appear.  Washed, sliced and sautéed with onions and special seasoning makes eating healthy very attractive.

Pumpkins come into the markets.  They are comical gourds that signal the football season and the coming family favorite of Thanksgiving.  Jack-o-lanterns blink from pictures, candy shelves and Halloween costumes.

Family recipes of pumpkin pie invariably bring a smiles to people looking forward to seeing grandpa, grandma, siblings and distant cousins.  Variations of the old recipe make their way into the gatherings.  A simple occasionally new entry can expand family traditions when everyone gets a taste of something new.

Jackets become a garment of necessity.  Rain, wind and cool temperatures call for the storage of shorts and flip-flops.  Our favorite T-shirts go into storage bags.

God reminds us that as the season change so do we.  Our days are being spent.  Only He knows when those days have reached their limit.  In the meantime He allows us to enjoy the whole process of growing older with fun shifts in the seasons.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

IMG_2831For a year I have been doing a systems dance.  I came to my new position with decades of PC use.  The new job is Apple-centric.

The solution seemed reasonable to me.  I am not a computer geek.  Nor am I a geek in any nerdy stuff.  I just want to work on my system by turning it on and off.

Life did not cooperate.  My simple solution did not withstand the complications and demands of ministry.  Soon work from work bled over to work at home.

At first I was content emailing myself with attachments that needed more attention.  When you do that too often, it is easy to forget which is the current file.  Yes, I have deleted some very good work in the days gone by.

IMG_2834Then, I was introduced to the cloud.  No, that was not an easy concept to grasp.  What?  Where? How?  When?  My IT support team was very patient.  They have even complemented me several times, saying that I have given them problems that they have never seen anywhere else in the entire universe.  I feel so accomplished!

Finally, the synching between the two systems was breaking down.  My older PC’s were not cooperating.  My much newer Mac was soaring.  The inevitable was at my doorstep.  It was time to retire the PC’s.

As a last-ditch effort I set up all of my units at work.  The IT support came in, took one look and chuckled.  “Time to choose.”

How do you say “Good-bye” to a system that has been a part of my life since the 8088 processor?  My first PC laptop weighed 26 pounds.  It was incredibly portable in its day.

IMG_2833Who cares if I used a wheelie bag to cart it around?  Memory?  Sure!  We did not have color monitors in those days.  Amber was all we needed.

Now, the process of transferring information is steadily part of my days.  Quietly, files are being moved.  Backups are moving to a new direction.  Singular efforts are matching my machines.  After all, my I-pad and I-phone already support my MacBook Pro.

My home office has a new guest.  It is my office MacBook Pro, visiting until I can add my own new machine from the Apple line.  Both of my PC’s are in a drawer.  They whimper once in a while.  I understand.  They have been faithful friends for a long time.  Now, they no longer have to beep, flash or go blank on me when the new demands of complicated software pressure the RAM in their innards.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

IMG_2145There is a fascinating topic of discussion.  We have had it with our new neighbors.  Friends who have come to our home have joined our conversation.  None of knows what kind of tree is in front of our house.

We know that it is some kind of palm.  The leaves certainly are palm tree specific.  But, what kind of palm tree it is, we do not know.

Admittedly, we have a lot more on our plates than to discover the name of this tree.  It will not change our lives much to know what species of palm it is.  Nor will it do anything for us other than satisfy a simple curiosity.  Some day I am sure, someone will tell us the name.

In the meantime we are just enjoying it.  It is growing.  The flower is amazing.  It is striking and colorful.

Originally, the flowering part of the palm captured our attention.  The yellow contrasted against the brilliant green leaves.  Then, each day I noticed how much more that flowers were growing.  It was massive growth.

In some ways they remind me of two ears of corn.  They started out yellow and oblong.  Then, each day they grew and grew.  It was fun to watch.

Fruitfulness is a healthy part of growth.  When life demonstrates itself there is fruit.  It is the celebration that life is present and growing.

There is a persistent argument among Christians.  It sometimes pertains to strategy, expansion, facilities, programs or staff.  The topic is always “growth”.  Do we want to grow or not?

IMG_2149A genuine argument does not really exist.  It is just a flurry of words that ventilate emotions and biases.  People get in their minds to dig in their heals and pick an issue to hang it on for all to hear.

The actual word is “change”.  Few will bring it up.  This what the real issue often reflects.  People do not like change if someone else is taking over, they themselves are losing influence or jealousy replaces the true expression of Christian living, namely, love.

Instead, there is something that marks the presence of life.  It is change.  What is growing is never the same today as it was yesterday.  Tomorrow will be even more different from yesterday.  Today’s results will even change, putting greater distance from what occurred yesterday.  Change is a natural consequence or even better a symptom that true growth is taking place.  I like my palm.  It is changing.  It is alive and growing.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

TX Christmas 2012 001My email inbox was full.  Sorting out the correspondence that could be easily resolved was like using a sharp paring knife on a ripe Bartlett pear.  But, some of those items call for more attention and care.  Those time-invested items were a mixture of business items and surprises, good surprises. 

One surprise grabbed my attention.  It was an email from a longtime friend.  We have shared musings in theological education for years. 

He let me know that he was going to be in San Francisco for an Association gathering and wanted to know if we could grab breakfast.  That was common for us to hook up for some great fellowship when we found that our paths crossed.  I agreed and put the date down in my calendar.

He picked a restaurant not far from his hotel.  When I showed up, I was surprised that he had someone with him that I did not know.  Mark introduced his Academic Dean to me.  We enjoyed a great meal and fabulous fellowship. 

Then, I was asked to pray about an opportunity.  They wanted me to consider joining the leadership team of Dallas Seminary.  One of their extension sites was growing and was designated as their first campus extension.  

After some time and prayers were completed as well as long conversations, it was clear that God was leading this connection.  It was time to comply, say our farewells, give out our hugs and move to our new ministry and home in Houston, Texas.  This major transition in our lives was formed in this historic eatery in the city of San Francisco, the Sears Fine Food, a city institution since 1938. 

This meal changed our lives forever.  It has been a very good change.  No one likes to move.  Saying “Goodbye” to very good friends, family and people is heartbreaking.  Yet, the Lord’s grace and mercy go before us and we are adding to our friendship community some amazing people.

Change can happen over a simple meeting with an old friend.  Opportunity is worth a good long look.  If it transpires, then, step out in faith and treasure all the moments for God to bless your obedience to His leading no matter how outlandish the change might be.

Nothing in life is more satisfying than being right where God wants you to be.  He will take care of all the details.  He mercy endures forever.

photo credit: brucefong photography

 

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My neighborhood is under siege. During my morning hike I lost count on how many homes are for sale. I don’t have to go far to see the phenomenon. Clusters of homes are on the market: five to the East, three to the West, four more to the South.There are some sad stories that are linked to these sales. Of all the homes that are for sale seven homes in my neighborhood are under foreclosure.

No one chooses to let that sad end come to their dream home. That kind of reality must come with other hardship, some unexpected set of circumstances, or a surprise that overtakes a family.

The story around here is even sadder. Of those seven foreclosures, four families just walked away from their homes . . . their dreams . . . their memories.

I sigh deeply when I imagine the grief that these families must still be facing. Our state, our beloved state of Michigan is in trouble.

Many of these fine folks have lost their jobs. They are moving to other parts of the country to try and start over. Tears, bitterness, heartache are left behind. Hopefully, they are heading for healing some where else. Maybe they can recover the American dream in another state.

This morning I woke up in my own bed. Today I drive to a job that is still promising. Tonight I go to sleep in a house that I still call my home. When we count our blessings we can find rest.

We don’t rejoice over those in trouble. Rather, our faith tells us to appreciate the good things that we have now. None of us knows what tomorrow holds.

Gratitude is an attitude that makes this day worth living. Are you one of those who is blessed today? I am. Be grateful and tell God “Thanks.” I have.

Eager for HIS Return!
Bruce Fong

 

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