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Financial investors know how important it is to start saving and placing those precious finances into income-earning locations.  Parents and grandparents know how important it is to invest as well.  They start young lives with the joy of reading.  Books introduce the world of imagination, learning and life about the world in which they will live.

My first grandchild is two this year.  As the day drew to a close and washing up had been completed, he gathered his blanket and an armful of books and ran into my arms, climbed into my lap, curled up so that he was comfortable and then he pointed to his books, gesturing for me to read to him.

He buried himself deeper into my hug.  I picked up the top book and opened it up to the first page.  These board books are fun to read.

Colorful characters and simple stories with clad truths make it fun.  Even though I have never read these books, it was easy to put in a lot of expression and emphasis.  The meaning of the lesson became more and more clear as I read to my grandson.

There were easy moments for me to ask him to point to colors, animals and objects on the page.  He was participating and no doubt learning while he snuggled in my embrace.  It was my first time in the role of grandfather reader.

I was relishing the moment.  This has been a dream to invest in these little lives this way.  I could introduce him to so many wonderful ideas and reenforce some of life’s most important values.

In brief well designed books, I taught my grandson about friendship, initiative, community, helpfulness and loyalty.  He learned about telling the truth, honesty and industry.  He will need these qualities when he lives his life among people who are not so helpful to others.

All during the reading I was thoroughly enjoying the cuddle moment.  My grandson curled up and tucked himself in a comfortable position, inside Grandpa’s embrace.  It was a special moment.

He is young but I hope that the love that we shared will always be a part of his life.  It will for me.  Reading and books and grandfather’s bonding time are treasures.

Did someone read to you in your childhood days?  Do you remember going to a library in your youth?  Classic novels probably still leave memory moments in your mind, right?

photo credit: KJB photography

1237515_10152571662945975_7245741172097343646_nWe are two thousand miles away from our grandson, our only grandchild.  Ministry is my calling and profession, which does not allow for a lot of extras for frequent flights across the country.  When we do go it is a treasured journey filled with invested moments of smiles, laughter and deepening love.

The marvel of being a grandparent pushes my personal spiritual pilgrimage as a follower of Christ to a new dimension.  For years I soaked in the intricate lessons from the Scriptures about a three generational legacy, a vertical legacy.  Pouring into our children was a blessing but now considering being a part of the spiritual vitality of a third generation is mind-blowing.

For sure when God gave us the great news of each child being conceived and then born, they were sensational moments.  Adding “parent” to our resume is an unparalleled delight and privilege.  The next step to sharing in the next generation is one that we are far removed yet deeply engaged.

Playing with our grandson stirred new moods in my soul.  How could be that I could be so much in love with a human being with whom I have never even had one measurable conversation?  When our grandson first hugged my knee, I  knew that affection could be immeasurably more stunning than the joys of marriage or parenting.

Now, every day while thousands of geographical miles away, my bride and I look hungrily into cyberspace for new pictures and videos of our little guy.  We are always tickled when we receive and email invitation to “Skype” with our grandson.  This latest one was a memorable treat.

He has learned sign language along with his growing months toward conversation.  On this cyberspace conversation our kids asked our grandson to show the sign of a “baby”.  He cradled his two hands palms up together and rocked them back and forth.

It was cute.  Each time he has communicated with sign we have been impressed.  But, we were not prepared for the next presentation.

Our kids then asked him to show where the baby was.  He immediately pointed to our daughter’s womb.  Oh, yeah!

Grand baby #2 is in the oven.  By God’s wonderful grace the third generation legacy will expand next summer.  Words will never express the joy of this anticipation.

The depth of blessing from our Heavenly Father are too generous.  The breadth of blessing is so great.  I am a very happy grandfather.

photo credit: KJB photography

Dec 2013 031Grand parenting is a special treat.  My wife is totally absorbed into being a grandmother.  She looked forward this role with great anticipation.  Nothing about this season of life has disappointed or surprised her.

The biggest surprise has been my role.  I was not expecting any of it.  Sure, when I saw little children and heard their laughter, I enjoyed it.  Yet, when your own flesh and blood introduces the next generation, it is remarkable.

When my daughter placed her firstborn son in my arms I was hooked.  The warmth of the touch, the sound of the breathing, the movement of a little life finding a comfortable place and the eyes searching for satisfaction for its curiosities is hypnotic.

It surprised me how such a little life could feel so good.  Maybe I forgot how special it felt from the years of our own children cuddling next to me.  Yet, even when I search for long ago memories, this is still very different. Maybe it is the years of dealing with adults contrasts remarkably with a little infant snuggling comfortably in my arms.

At six months he has started smiling with his eyes. There is exuberant life in his infancy that displays itself with bounty.  An old Chinese proverb explains it: “The eyes are the window to the soul.”

Life sparkles in his eyes.  Curiosities are forming an endless appetite for exploring, touching, tasting, feeling and living.  I am looking forward to being a part of that learning.

We have not had a conversation yet.  My grandson and I just sit or walk together.  There are very few understandable words that are exchanged between us.

Nevertheless, a bond is forming.  He is secure in my grasp.  I hug him closely and it feels very good.

Maybe in the way that God creates us as humans, we naturally can feel that connection of love, devotion and protection.  From the warmth of that touch comes the sensation of trust, security and hope.  Those are magnanimous words that I look forward to explaining to him some day.

While he is cradled in my arms, he is safe.  I look forward to teaching him about the joys and dangers of the world.  Hopefully, I can pass on to him insights about people, smart ways to navigate through rough circumstances and how to invest in good choices.

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I look forward to having a part in nurturing his spiritual journey.  His pilgrimage with Jesus will be the greatest delight.  Our future holds countless conversations about the Savior.

photo credit: brucefong photography

IMG_3214Life has many mysteries.  Many we have heard about but nothing heightens our senses like our first hand experiences.  That is a good way to explain my first foray as a grandfather.

I used to think that grandfathers were old people.  That is a notion that I have jettisoned very quickly.  Yes, as soon as I was notified that my daughter was expecting, I decided that grandfathers are very young!

My life was not blessed with a lot of interaction with that generation ahead of me.  I saw a picture or two but I do not have many memories.  Certainly there were no conversations that I had with my grandfather.

I hope that if God’s good grace allows many conversations await my grandson and me.  In fact besides just talking I hope that there will be many shared experiences.  Planning those touch points is not a problem.  What has surprised me are the many moments of pause.

Both of my parents are gone.  On the paternal side of my immediate family, I am the aged one.  Yikes!  That is a scary thought.

But, fear does not dominate my thinking much.  Instead, I am often amazed when I look into my grandson’s eyes.  He is pure, innocent, simple and with only potential in his body.

There have been no disappointments, no hurts no pain with people or tragedies that have scared his soul.  Hopefully, I can help him negotiate any of those inevitable tough times in life.  In the mean time it is time to bond with this third generation.

I hold him on my knees and I am amazed that I love this little life so much and we have not even had one intelligible conversation to date.  But, when we hug it is full of life.  Our checks squish together and the warmth and freshness of his cleanness easily breaks out a smile on my face.  His wiggling around and purring sounds melt my spirit.

When he laughs, I drink in the sound of his cheer.  His giggling is not couched in words just overflowing with happiness.  Each time his eyes focus on something, his little brain is making notes, growing his curiosities and trying to form the endless parade of questions that grandpa will get to answer.

Whatever privilege I have to pour into his soul the wisdom of the ages, I will do so.  Maybe we will sit on a dock with fishing poles in hand as he fills my heart with inquiry and I fill his life with life experiences that will make his life very beneficial to the lives that he will touch.

IMG_3028I am in the transition generation.  Modern technology has kept me scratching my head.  Once I get my arms around one new twist in the world of cyberspace, five others pop up.

Vocabulary, short-cuts, speed and wonder are all wrapped together and leave me bewildered.  Just when I am feeling sort of confident with one mechanism, I find that I have to learn a new system, a variation or a completely different practice.  Just the world of computers is amazing.

I remember taking a laptop to the library to do my research.  It had an 8088 chip inside.  This processing unit made me feel modern.  The portable computer weighed 28 pounds.  Now, my smart phone is brighter than that unit.

Nevertheless, technology has brought us a special blessing.  Our first grandson is 2,000 miles away.  We had our first Skype visit.  It was fun.

In real-time and with real sound and real video we watched each other, talked to each other, laughed with each other and just hung out over two-way communication together.  It took me a while to warm up to the experience.

I am used to Skype but I normal enter into that scheme with a prepared agenda, a designated chair and team dynamics.  At the office we use this technology on a weekly basis.  We are very productive with this media option.

Now, however, it was very different.   We had no agenda.  No one was running the interaction.  It was just spontaneous conversation.  That was odd.  It took some time to get used to it.

At the office I am used to spotting the end of the dialogue.  When it happens everyone is ready to hang up.  This was so different.  It was time to let moments of quietness fill up with our grandson’s noises.  Noises came from both ends.  They all made us laugh.

I do not know how much the little guy can comprehend on the computer screen.  But, it really did feel like he was watching us.  His eyes and sounds made us feel close to this precious little life.

We still measure his age by months.  He has not been long with us yet he has won over every heart in our family.  We have welcomed him with open arms.

Here on Skype he is opening his arms and laughing with us.  We burst out laughing and the cacophony of our raucous sounds startles him.  So we smile on and chuckle on and love on through the wonderful world of technology.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Cannon Beach & Portland 2013 003It was a very special day.  Providentially, I was on my way for a rigorous speaking engagement on the Oregon Coast.  It was scheduled during the previous year.  The location and timing were amazingly wonderfully place.  I could never have orchestrated the events myself.  This is one of those wonderful gifts from our Loving and Wonderful Heavenly Father set in place before we mere mortals knew what was going to happen.

Our first grandchild was to be born during the very speaking trip that I had committed to last year.  I was to land in Portland on July 19 and our grand baby was due on July 18.  It was perfect!

My daughter and wife picked me up at the airport.  I was looking forward to my first meeting with the little guy.  My bride had flown out two weeks earlier and had already spent tons of quality time bonding with our newest family member.  I may have been the last relative to visit his new life.

I loaded my luggage into the SUV.  Then, I took my seat in the back next to the car seat.  These modern safety-rich infant seats are amazing.  They look very comfortable and secure.

Lucas was asleep.  His handsome head was protruding from a multiple layer of blankets.  His tiny body was pulsating to the rhythm of his breathing and steady hum of the vehicle on the freeway.

I could not take my eyes off of him.  Each feature I studied with care.  No, I was not memorizing them, I was being totally enthralled by them and him.  

Seeing was not good enough.  I had to touch him.  A gentle stroke on this head felt amazing.  He was warm and soft.  His cheek was bouncy and made him jostle around a bit.

He grabbed my finger and I let him squeeze it.  The warm embrace was a special touch.  Our first touch will never be supplanted by any other.  This was special.

Now, I gazed out the window to remember a town where I had invested two decades of my life, still enjoyed some of the closest friends in my life and now, this was home to my first grandchild.  He squeezed my finger a little tighter.  It struck me deeply that I had fallen in love with a new life with whom I have not yet had a conversation.  Nevertheless, I gladly welcomed the new love-addition in my life.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Lucas BaileyThere will never be another Father’s Day for me like this one.  Yes, I am blessed with five children.  Do not faint.  God blessed my bride and I with three of our own children.  Then, our two oldest are now married.  We love our two in-law children so much that we count them as our own.  Three plus two equals five.

Having these five with us is a blessing.  We laugh, discuss, make memories and serve in the building of God’s Kingdom together.  On top of all of these joys we have a new blessing to enjoy for the rest of our lives.   This Father’s Day, I have the added celebratory credential as a Grandfather.  Baby Lucas was born one day before Father’s Day and launched me into the world of grandparenting.  What an amazing treat in life.

For years we have been preparing ourselves for this wonderful phase in life.  There would be snatches of wisdom left by others in this field of human satisfaction.  Someone once declared, “Grandparenting is God’s reward for parents who did not murder their teenagers.”  It was said only once to me.  I have not forgotten.

Then, Moses made a huge point in inspired Scripture teaching that legacy was more than horizontal impact.  The privilege of influencing others is not just among our peers.  Instead, we must also pour into our vertical legacy through our children and our children’s children.

On this special day when I have the thrill of being included among this special group of men known as fathers, I also can invest in the third generation behind me.  Our nuclear group has now added this stunning dimension to our family tree.  This little guy is the first of hopefully many.

Our gathering times will be fun but also edifying in our faith endeavor.  Together we will live our lives for the glory of  the King.  We will encourage each other in our spiritual pursuits, cheer each other on with achievement, learning and challenges.

We will make a difference in our lifetime.  Automatically, we will celebrate what we can all do together.  Certainly, we will do far more together than we will ever do on our own.  It is a miracle known as family.  It is the best.  God has blessed me with this wonderful strength.  I delight in putting it into efficacious practice.

Happy Father’s Day!

photo credit: proud parents