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FullSizeRender-3My cellphone was right on time.  Yup, I set the alarm clock to start ringing at 530AM.  A short two night respite in the country had come to an end.

Now, meetings, appointments, errands and projects waited for me back in the city.  On our campus people would be buzzing with activity.  This was an “all hands on deck” kind of event as we celebrated our new campus.

Sometimes I stack my calendar with day after day filled with activities.  This was one of those weeks.  Nevertheless, in the middle of the week I creatively squeezed two nights in the country.

Yes, it just means that I order myself to relax.  “Now, relax!  Start to unwind quickly before time runs out!  Hurry up!”  It’s comical, unrealistic yet the reality of the life l live.

My routine to get to reenter the faced paced life of my role at the seminary was about to kick in again.  I expressed my gratitude to my hosts, loaded my gear and drove out the gate of their fabulous ranch.  My sleepiness was tugging at my eyelids.

Down the country road for a short distance blended me on to a State Highway.  Traffic was non-existent.  Fog shrouded the landscape and turned everything into a monotone.

My radio kept me company.  Memories of the last few days played out in my mind.  Then, a morning hope became my entertainment.

The distant Texas sky exploded out of the low-lying fog.  A monotone world was shattered with splendid vibrant colors.  Our sun with its signature blazing ball was creeping over the horizon.

Now, it was show time for the Creator.  He put this drama into motion when He made this world.  The physics, the astronomy, the aesthetics, the life, the sensation are knitted together for a daily spectacular show for anyone to enjoy.

A sunrise wipes away the fear of what the day will bring.  There is a power and size in His presence all too magnificent to ignore.  We at least naturally grin and the pleasure and reminder of His display that He is still in charge.

We humans worry too much and trust too little.  He still invites us to warm up under His generous grace and relax with a touch of His mercy.  Step more lively into the day as He welcomes us into His care.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

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There is an insatiable appetite among humans.  No, it is not about food or possessions or achievements.  Neither is it about money or position or power.  It is about grandchildren and the unending joy that they bring to the experience of a grandparent.

We have been overwhelmed with the love that is generated in our hearts for our first grandchild.  He lives 2,000 miles away and makes for rare hugs and kisses during the year.  Yet, the fountain of desire never ceases.

Now, we have been ready and eager to welcome our first granddaughter into our lives.  She was not like her brother who came five weeks early.  Instead, she pushed the limits of her due date and made her grand entry just two days before her designated day for her birth.

I have not yet met her in person.  That will happen soon.  So far it has been text message announcements, videos and of course pictures sent through cyberspace.

Yes, the objective observer no doubt sees a newborn picture is like every other newborn picture.  But, through the guys of grandparent, the view is much different.  This child is perfect.

Like an angel sent directly from God to bless our family, we celebrate the stewardship of this precious life and welcome her into our hearts.  The love is welling up in a reservoir waiting to be lavished on this little life whenever we can make the pilgrimage to her home.  In eager anticipation we look forward to filling up our grandson’s life and our granddaughter’s life with all that good grandparents are supposed to give.

How can we be so much in love with another human being with whom we have not yet met and one with whom we have never exchanged a single word of a conversation?  This is the mystery of grand-parenting.  It is a wonder yet it is clearly an indisputable reality of life.

When God designed grandparents, He used that season of life as a reward for parents who restrained themselves from murdering their teenagers.  The tough years are washed away as if they never occurred.  This blessed bathing of the human memory is not unlike the greater picture of the redemptive story by our Savior.

So much is washed away by a single act of selfless love.  Grandparents know this dynamic.  It is a reason that we stretch the theology of “angels” and apply it to newborn grandchildren.  Don’t you think this is a great way to stretch a Biblical metaphor?

photo credit: Bailey photography

IMG_4304The movie theater is a Houston refuge.  When the summer months descend on our city, the temperatures soar.  We have learned to take refuge in places where the air conditioning is always guaranteed.

Sometimes we go to the Mall for a walk.  Hordes of people have the same idea.  There is always plenty of parking.

Other times we do our grocery shopping.   For some reason we linger in the refrigeration area.  Even when we do not have to buy any frozen goods we open a door and pretend to be doing some shopping.

When the legs tire we hold out for the movie theater.  Our Senior status makes it an affordable option.  The air conditioning is always on.

Often the Texas way is to walk into a theater with short sleeves and shorts.  But, it is wise to carry a light jacket or sweater.  Yes, it is so cold that Texans go in to put something on.

This time the lights dimmed and the movie The Hundred Foot Journey was showing.  The plot is the adventure of an Indian family who trying to find a new home after they were burned out from bad people in their home country.  It is the father’s patriarchal extra sense that is leading them.

Their wanderings in search of a new home take them to England, Switzerland and finally to France.  It is the life in the flavor of abundant ingredients that keeps them in a small French village.  There they acquire a neglected restaurant and start their business.

Unfortunately, right across the street, a mere hundred feet away is an upper scale French restaurant.  The widowed owner is famous for her one star establishment.  Competition between the two establishments is the tension in the movie.

The talent of Hassan is finally acknowledged by Madame Mallory through painful admissions marred by arson, open impediments and social friction.  Yet, the melting of the cold feelings is the delight of the story.  Enemies become colleagues.  Colleagues become allies.  Allies become deep friends.

Success puts the spotlight on one.  Those who are left behind settle for the best that they can do.  But, love draws the family back together.

Love fills the kitchen.  Joy comes with the love.  You can taste the delight that climaxes the reunion.

The future is bright.  Laughter and achievement abound.  The third star is aptly deserved and appropriately settles in as part of the blended lives of these who treasure amazing taste.  It is an excellent film.

photo credit: brucefong photography

IMG_4126A funny definition of grandchildren is that they are God’s blessing to parents who did not murder their teenage children.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Then, marvel at the wonder of words that time the unexpected with the fully understood message accomplished with a very few words.

What is nearly as marvelous as a well timed joke is the wonder of how a grandchild can capture your heart as a grandparent and never let it go.  Before there is even a single cogent conversation love is permanently established.

How is it possible to be so in love with a young life when we have never had the briefest of conversations?  Yet, devotion to this little one is permanently established.  There will be no compromise on that family bond of loyalty.

When he smiles, I smile.  Of course when he laughs it is infectious and I laugh heartily.  Even when he cries I do not panic, there is no discomfort I just love on him.

Bringing comfort to this little soul is a sheer delight.  We cuddle together and his little life quiets down.  I sink deep into my easy chair as his crying slows and transforms into a quiet whimper.

He snuggles into my arms and breaths like he is relieved.  Tears soak into my shirt and little brown eyes stare up into mine.  A gentle smile breaks out on his countenance and I melt in a deeper sense of commitment.

Yes, I will teach him many ways to enter into mischief.  Together we will laugh through adventures and make fabulous memories together.  We will learn about fun, humor, the outdoors, the Bible, faith, hope and love.

Honestly, I will love passing on the lessons of life and the joys of daily living to this precious little one.  Who knows but God what the potential of this one life will be.  He will bring great blessing into the lives of many.

In the mean time I will laugh when he goes through his antics.  Each time he achieves a new landmark in his progress I will smile.  Eagerly I will look forward to the many firsts of his life and chuckle while he finds his way through the maze of growing up.

Pictures will remind me of those times since thousands of miles will separate us for most of the year.  Videos will allow me the joy of reliving those life stages especially when I cannot be physically present.  Grandchildren are a miraculous bundle without a doubt.  They are treasured gift from the Lord.

photo credit: brucefong photography

 

IMG_3292My ministry duties were completed.  It was a busy time.  Over three days I spoke six times.  Even for the most enthusiastic speakers, that is a lot of effort on top of managing a full-time ministry.

After my finally presentation, I was feeling the joy and ease of a major task being completed.  Now, I could relax and feel the lightness of anticipating a trip home.  Maybe it was this weight being lifted that my spirits soared.

When I walked outside I was bundled up well.  For many years I lived in the cold climates of the United Kingdom and Michigan.  Those forays into the upper regions of the earth taught me how to dress for cold weather.

I was dressed in several layers of warm clothes.  My accessories kept my hands and head protected too.  Stepping out into the cold air was not a fearful act.

In fact when the cold air welcomed me, I was greeted by some special Texas rarities.  Snowflakes were swirling about in the air.  Large clumps of flakes drifted down and were collecting on the cold ground.

Meteorologists call these snow flurries.  They have a soft beauty about them.  In some way they are able to make the whole outside seem very quiet.

The child inside of me was awakened.  There was not enough snow to make a snowman.  Nor was there enough to make a snowball.  However, there was enough falling through the skies to try to catch a snowflake on my tongue.

It is a funny experience.  Chasing these gently falling crystals of water is entertaining.  Walking to the car of my host, I was darting after these drifting winter wonders.  My hosts smiled and commented about my behavior.

When a snow flake hits your tongue.  There is no taste.  However, you feel the cold speck on your taste buds.  It is fun.

I remembered a funny cartoon about catching snowflakes on your tongue.  It showed a boy gagging in a snow flurry picture.  The caption simply said, “When catching snowflakes on your tongue, make sure that there are no migrating birds flying overhead.”  I checked.  Before I began snagging the drifting flakes, I looked overhead and made sure that the skies were bird-less.

Have you enjoyed the delight of something simple today?  Do not let those easily missed opportunities get stifled from our busy lives.  Catch a snow flake on your tongue today.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

baby booties 2012Christmas 2012 in Texas will be a very special celebration in our memories.  Of course it was memorable because all five of our children were there to celebrate with us.  But, something else made 2012 a forever smile time.

If you’re thinking of a first, then you are correct.  It was an unforgettable first for our family.  The celebration was spontaneous, surreal and unexpected.

Our adult children were calling us together so that they could give my bride and me our Christmas gift.  They seemed unusually eager for me to hurry, but I was busy upstairs getting my camera gear ready.  Eventually, I succumbed to their entreaties, but puzzled at their relentless insistence.

Once I descended the stairs our children were giddy and our daughter gave us the clear instruction, “Look on the Christmas tree for your present.”  Curious and bewildered, my bride and I examined our tree.  Everything on my side was familiar.

Then, my bride, exclaimed, “Here it is!  What is it?”  She held up a pair of reindeer shoes.  “They baby shoes,” I declared.

“What?” my bride uttered.  “What kind of shoes are they, Mom,” our daughter teased.  “Really?  Are they baby booties?” she was hopeful but cautious in her enthusiasm.

Then, she lost it completely.  We are going to be grandparents!  What joy broke out!

For years my bride has been preparing for the day when she could cuddle and spoil her own grandchildren.  It was a given that when a baby was within arm reach, she was in line to offer to carry any little life that would allow her the privilege.  Just that morning we saw a baby at the grocery store and we both sigh, “It could be ours.”

Now, the wait is over.  There will be no more moments of gazing and admiring the grandchildren of others.  We won’t have to pretend that we are out looking to adopt grandchildren or act as honorary grandparents to total strangers.  God is blessing us with our own grandchild!

A joy has erupted in the life of my bride.  She has a smile that hasn’t been possible to wash off.  We both laugh, tease and smile with good thoughts about our new family addition to be.

This is the part of life where we can enjoy a young life, pour on the charm and when we are need a break, we just go home!  I am looking forward to this.  It’ll be a delight beyond human expression.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Christmas is all about celebration.  This is the time of year when everyone can find a reason to rejoice, be happy and get into the spirit of this most favorite season of the year.  It’s odd when we have to tolerate a small number of loud humbuggers who are trying to eliminate Christmas.

Some call it a war on Christmas.  I’m not sure who declared hostilities against something so good but it seems weird.  It really doesn’t make sense to the vast majority.

I liked a comedy TV show that interviewed people on the streets.  They asked people a simple question of identification.  He stopped some pedestrians on the street for a simple survey.

What followed was remarkable and pointed.  It was so simple that the war on Christmas took a major hit in a manner of moments on national TV.  All it took from the host was a wry smile.

He pointed to tree in the town square.  It was decorated with lights, ornaments and garlands.  Then, he simply asked, “What is that?”

The unsuspecting pedestrians answered the obvious, “It’s a Christmas tree.”

“Are you sure about your answer?” the host pressed his guests.

“Yes,” they responded incredulously, “it’s a Christmas tree.”

“That’s correct!” the host exclaimed.  “Did you know that there was a war on Christmas? Some people are trying to get rid of the name ‘Christmas’,” he informed them.

“Why would anyone want to do that?” they shook their heads in disbelief.

Turning to the TV audience, the host rolled his eyes, “It seems overwhelmingly obvious that Americans still believe in Christmas.”

That suits me just fine.  Reasonableness aside or in the middle of the discussion, why should a few complaintants impose their opinion that infringes on the opinion of others.  I’m not offended when someone says “Happy Holidays” to me but I feel just as free to say to others, “Merry Christmas!”

No use getting all PC on each other.  Just celebrate freely.  Your individual joy will not be offensive to anyone.  It might be someone else’s excuse to express their complaint.  But, what can you do for people who are by nature sour and looking for a fight?

Christmas is special.  Sure, Jesus is the real reason for Christmas.  If people are offended by Him, then that’s between them and the LORD. 

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  We will also celebrate His birthday.  We are into rejoicing.  Merry Christmas!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

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