You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2012.

This is a BIG anniversary.  35 years together is a long time.  When strangers hear about it, they marvel and congratulate us. 

We were planning something really BIG for this event in our lives.  Hawaii was on the list.  Each time that we have been there we never get enough of paradise.

Then, we talk about Hong Kong.  That’s an exotic destination.  One of my best friends is serving the Lord there and it would have been fabulous to experience that amazing city with its incomparable seafood meals.

There was a temptation to look at Europe.  We have never been able to get to the continent.  Switzerland is only a memory from postcards sent from others. 

But God had different plans for us.  Our anniversary two-week vacation providentially was the best time to plan a trip to our new assignment, Houston, Texas.  This land of hot summers was our 35th wedding anniversary destination.

We laugh about this turn of events but it’s life and eternity all mixed into one.  However, we made the moment memorable with good food, making new friends and sheer relaxation after a lot of busy running around.  Of course food had to be a part of this journey.

Yvonne was shy about her order.  With a smile I urged her to order what she would not normally order when sensitive to price.  When I suggested the grilled lobster, she lit up and enthusiastically accepted.

My choice was a great match with the celebration at hand.  Rack of lamb always makes my mouth water but I usually pass since it is a spendy selection.  But, this was a very special occasion.

When our meals were delivered, we were giddy in anticipation.  Of course we shared.  That’s the beauty of many years together.

This was definitely a surf and turf meal.  What fun!  It was a fine evening topped with freshly baked chocolate chip and macadamia nut cookies.

Happy Anniversary, Yvonne!  I love you!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

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When I need a break, I climb into our elevator and press 3.  After the doors open again, I’m on the roof of Sunset Church.  A few steps takes me to the wall over which I can view the mighty Pacific Ocean.

Over head flocks of seagulls cruise on the thermals in search of their daily findings for food.  A pair of black birds fly past as they harass the much larger but not nearly as agile crow.  Two mourning dove coo on the telephone wires uninterested in the plight of the black feathered neighbors of the sky.

It’s windy.  The few trees in the Sunset district are bending under the power of the breeze.  Moving air makes its presence known on the seas with whitecaps as far out as the eye can see.

The Ocean seems endless.  It sits as a ribbon of movement from the South to the North.  If you listen you can even hear the waves breaking on the sandy beaches.

Houses are densely packed into our neighborhood.  Tiny houses serve as a habitat for many people  A thousand square feet serves a family with many children packed in even tighter with grandparents, distant cousins and their families as well.

Everyone scatters in the morning taking advantage of public transportation to head off to work.  All during the day various people head out to fill up shifts that keep their American dream alive.  Some day with the right schooling and the diligence of work and hopefully a good break or two, they will get to where they want to go.

The life of every person in our neighbor is a burden to our LORD.  No one is left out of His passion and love.  While this was my home I poured my energy into impacting people who call this place home. 

They may wonder if anyone cares or if their life is at all valuable.  But, the temptation to cynically assume anonymity would be wrong.  The Almighty is deeply concerned and cares for everyone who is human and draws breath. 

This amazing neighborhood is the field of His harvest.  He has put Sunset Church in the middle of it to touch the neighbors with the eternal love of His grace.  What a wonderful God to give His only Son, Jesus Christ, so that all would have a chance for eternity.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Honor is not common among our complicated narcissistic culture.  This treasured and noble term describes the heart of a selfless person who would suffer sacrifice before allowing a fellow to be hurt, abused or left helpless.

Many of our military still know this word.  It is not just part of their vocabulary but it is their identity.  A code governs their choices and their decisions.  Honor is at the heart of who they are.

Those who have honor are faithful people.  They exude loyalty.  Betrayal is never a consideration.

Judas had no honor.  After generations have passed he still ranks the highest as the most notorious of betrayers of trust.  To turn on someone who trust you is despicable.

On one of the year we formalize those that we celebrate because of the honor that they lives their lives.  Our military and veterans have given up so much for the liberty of us all.  Tough choices, personal sacrifices and often intense suffering came with the territory that they chose to walk into for the benefit of the rest of us.

Thank you!

Our simple task as fellow Americans is to remember.  Just knowing what they did for us.  Over the generations they fought bravely, died gallantly and experienced trauma so that our freedoms could be preserved. 

Thank you!

When the orders came for our troops to enter into battle, they said Good-bye to family, friends and loved ones.  When transports took them to their mission assignments, they no longer looked at themselves but instead to the task at hand.  Collectively their service to their country benefitted each of us.

Thank you!

On this day receive our thanks.  But, also let us momentarily contemplate your past patriotism.  It is your honor that we long to remember. 

Thank you!

As a tribute to your American spirit we join with you in celebration of all that God has blessed our nation.  Through you we can thank God for the lives that we are free to live.  We worship freely and treasure our individual pursuit of happiness because you lived a life of honor for so many.

Thank you!

When words are callously scattered about with diluted meaning, you redefine one of our most treasured terms.  The honor you illustrated with your life gives us fresh meaning behind the definition of that special word.  You lived with honor, you battle with honor and you gave us a reason to celebrate with honor. 

Thank you!

photo credit: brucefong photography

 

The day was incredibly busy.  Both of us had the “wind down” pressures to perform the day’s duties and also to initiate the plans to wrap up both of our jobs for life.  To-do lists are long, dynamic and smiles along the way need to be intentionally injected. 

My tasks for the day were done.  It was with deep satisfaction that I could check so many errands off of my list.  I felt tired, deeply tired.

In a few minutes I rolled into the parking lot to collect Yvonne.  She needed some help gathering her items to bring home.  Her school year is coming to a close.

She sank into her passenger seat, breathing a sigh of relief.  Her smile told me that she had had a satisfying but exhausting day as well.  Our route home was quick, eventless and relaxing.

Once we pulled into our driveway, it was time to unload our gear.  But, a sudden realization smacked my bride on the side of her head.  “Where’s my phone?”

We looked every where that it could possibly be.  She checked every one of her pockets and searched my pick-up truck too.  The only choice was to return to her school before the janitor locked up the building.

Off we went, too tired to really want to do this but knowing that it was a “had to be done” journey.  We arrived just as the custodian was closing the door to Yvonne’s building.  He waited for us to make a desperate dash to find the missing cellphone – success!

Now, we were both really tired.  The thought of going home to cook, do the dishes and clean up the kitchen had no appeal.  We surrended to a better idea.

We drove up to small little eatery that we have frequented in the past. The owner was alone in the smallish establishment.  We sat down but left the menus on the table.

The specials were on the chalk board.  That sounded good to us.  He took our orders and traded them with two cups of hot tea and hot water. 

Ease returned to our tired bodies.  Like a soothing massage, the tasty fare made us both sigh with satisfaction.  Quiet, delicious and no dishes to wash made for a fine evening for two very tired puppies.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

For most of us running into a critic is unpleasant.  None of us like to be object of someone else’s venom, yet someone is doing it to others.  If everyone who dislikes being criticized could  all agree not to do it, we would have the problem licked!

But, since that will not happen this side of heaven, we need to persevere. 

The apostle wanted to verify the love of the Corinthian believers.  He was not forcing others into a competition.  Paul’s desire was not compare believer with his or her fellow believers.  It was simply a desire to demonstrate true love.

Jesus gave the best example of all.  In His grace He, although rich with eternal wealth gave it all up in order to come to earth and give His life for mankind.  His humble sacrifice became our avenue to inevitably enter into heaven.

Furthermore, the Corinthian believers had a generous heart.   Paul wanted to highlight this about their life of faith.  They didn’t drag their feet to give to the needs of fellow believers.

Giving can be thwarted in several ways.  Some never get off of square 1.  Those who do could easily start off enthusiastic but fall away and not finish. 

Paul wanted to instruct the Corinthian believers to give properly.  Giving is wonderful.  Having the desire to do so without coercion from others is outstanding.  Finishing a directive by God to give is indeed a valuable spiritual landmark.

God is never impressed with the amount of our financial gift.  He doesn’t need it.  But, He orchestrates our giving to prepare for us expressing the genuineness of our heart.

The Apostle explains that giving is not a matter of giving up our resources only to be poor ourselves.  Rather we give of our earthly wealth in order to feel right about our life and the pleasure of Jehovah Jireh.  Christians are not socialists but they are concerned about the needs of their neighbor.

It is not a matter of giving until it hurts.  Rather, those who have been born again may now express their gratitude to Christ for their eternal life.  Their giving, nevertheless, was not in jeopardy.  God had supplied them with a bountiful reserve to help others.

God is the ultimate quartermaster.  He will insure that all are cared for and no one will be lacking while participating in the care of others.  It is about sharing not owning.  Wealth is not the picture but contentment is.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

2 corinthians 8.8-15

My clock was sounding my internal alarm.  It was time to grab my keys, heft my backpack and place my cellphone into my pocket.  This daily routine is usually shrouded in darkness. 

The curtains are drawn.  I don’t have time to open them.  What is waiting for me outside is a secret.

No, no one is hiding anything.  But, whatever the weather I need to depart regardless.  There is always time to be surprised by the day’s weather.

Swiftly, I pulled open the door to our garage.  Then, the switch for the garage door opener easily depressed under my finger.  As the garage door raised, I was aghast.

The entire neighborhood was encased in a giant cloud, otherwise known as fog.  It’s common here in our town of Daly City.  But, today, it was especially thick.

All of the apartment complexes up on the hill were hidden behind the low-lying fog.  It was moving swiftly, pushed along rapidly by the ocean breezes.  That aspect of a fog is fascinating.

But, the worst part of a foggy day is driving in it.  Impaired vision and limited visibility mean danger.  Already the radio news has reported several accidents. 

People are driving too fast, hoping that the assumption of a clear road is their only route.  But, signal lights burn with dull penetration.   I hear the sound of brakes skidding on pavement. 

Gladly, that vehicle was able to stop in time.  He wasn’t behind me.  I breathed with relief.

Slowly a sign appeared on the side of the road.  It was a speed limit indicator.  55?  No way.  I checked on my speedometer and read 35 mph. 

Haste makes waste is that adage of old.  It is wise advice on a day like today.  Better to arrive a little later than usual to my destination than to never arrive at all.

Visibility and how far we can see through the weather tells us how to slow down.  Someone told me that Daly City is really foggy because of all the Asian families cooking rice.  I laughed then and chuckled now while slowly carefully making my way through the soup.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

They were friends long before I have ever met them.  Grade school blended their lives together.  Years have gone by but their contact still continues after decades have passed by.

Together they would race each other home after school.  Those foot races were part of the day children could still safely make the journey home without adult supervision.  These two girl friends took full advantage of that freedom.

Laughter, sharing and memories changed over the decades.  But, they kept in touch.  Weddings took place and the man in each of their lives began to share in those rich early days of grade school adventures.  Friends since they were eleven, the depth of life that bonded them is as fun as it is a precious memory. 

It was time for their 40th wedding anniversary.  Sacramento is a two-hour drive away.  The gala event was scheduled for a Saturday, my toughest day of the week.

But, for special occasions some like this event was worth making the journey.  Together, Yvonne and I drove those long hot miles.  She reminisced over the events that marked both of their lives. 

A story of their wedding would pop up.  Then, the events of their two children became part of the long talks on this distant drive.  Challenges in life were also a part of the adventure of life for them.

But, there was an uncanny connection between these two women.  I enjoyed every visit that we have had with them over the years.  Have you ever met people like that where you only have good things to say about lives that have intersected with yours?

We talked about a common faith as well.  When God graciously gives us the momentous treasure of friendship, it is especially precious when we know that our connection goes way beyond this life as well.  Eternity will greet us all and the friendship will continue.

Once at the church, we heard Yvonne’s name called.  A warm and long embrace was so appropriate.  We were escorted to the head table to dine with the guests of honor.

The talking started.  Food encouraged it to continue.  Memories through songs, pictures and testimonials filled in a picture full of life and love. 

That’s the kind of friendship to enjoy.  It is a friendship that lasts forever.  Congratulations, Tom and Debbie.  Thanks for the years of memories.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Everyone was alerted to the coming scientific phenomena.  It would only make its appearance once in a blue moon.  This is the kind of event that God displays in His creation for all of us to marvel.

Special care needs to be taken of course.  A solar eclipse needs some simple precautions.  No one wants to damage their eyesight carelessly.

The moon is in its normal orbit, but this time it passes between the sun and the earth.  The shadow that is cast tracks across the earth.  Certain parts of the world’s population get to experience the phenomenon of the sun going dark.

It is a stunning event.  Quickly the light of day is extinguished.  It happens rapidly and the time of day is puzzling if information is scarce.

In my past I remember a full solar eclipse.  Day was turned into night and I could see stars in the heavens during daylight hours.  It was spectacular!

Now, in anticipation of that special moment cameras point skyward.  People have put this moment on their calendars.   The experience will be momentous. 

God has timed the event perfectly.  Scientists have observed the patterns put into the solar system.  The announcement, the anticipation, the expectation and declare the marvel as all eyes turn to the heavens.

We wouldn’t be able to see the ring of fire, but we could share in enough.  It was very cool!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

There was a time when walking was a challenge.  My feet would not stand up to any strolls beyond the distance beyond kicking a can.  Those were tough days.

Pain was the problem.  Yet, my schedule was merciless.  Even though I journeyed from airport to airport, being stricken with unusual pain made for an excruciating journey.

I well remember in an international airport looking for any handrail to make my footsteps take me to my next destination.  A wheel chair looked very appealing when I passed it.  Instead, I gritted my teeth and kept up my faith walk with prayers for God’s relief.

Ahead, I was enthused to see a mechanized moving floor.  If I could make it there I could just stand on the right side and catch my breath.  I was counting on a respite for the next series of painful steps.

Ah, the relief of making it to the moving sidewalk was wonderful.  It is a nuisance to some people but I relished in the relief from the pain.  Of course I stood there looking cool and collected. 

When we can’t be in control at least we can look like we are.  That is the guy code.  It’s not pride, it is machismo.

By the time that I came to end of the moving sidewalk, I noticed a considerable drop in the foot pain.  Gingerly, I made the next few steps to the next moving sidewalk and was pleasantly surprised that my destination was easily reached.  Whatever was bothering my foot was now quieting down.

Oh, what a relief it is to sense surprising pain go away.  I didn’t know the cause but I was not going to complain about the ease of my now very happy feet.  That ugly duckling part of the human anatomy was now feeling very good.

The walkway was the cushioned kind.  It was springy and gave me the sense of a load taken away.  I hid my pain easily since it was clearly fading away.

After that rugged trip my doctor gave me an exam.  Now, that annoying phenomenon called arthritis is under control.  What was once frustrating is now a mental precaution. 

When I walk through an airport, I appreciate the walk without pain as well as the moving walkways.  Footpower is amazing.  Hail to the feet!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

My friends, Wally and Joyce, invited to their new digs in Ft. Meyer, Florida.  It’s a community for people who love being active, love to make new friends, have tons of hobbies to share with others and love the surroundings of grounds that make every day a treat for a walk, bike ride or a golf cart ride around just to take in the sun, scenery and spectacular sunrises as well as sunsets.  I got the first class royal tour.

Sure, the buildings were nice, the amenities were amazing and the grounds sparkled under the car of hard-working grounds keepers.  The food was not only great but it was also cheap.  All of us guests were housed in the community hotel.

As we strolled from place to place I kept noticing the abundant wild life.  When God created this world, He filled it with special touches of His tastes in spectacular variety.  The inlet from the estuary was the home of several manatees. 

These gentle giants of the brackish waters are also very shy.  From a distance their uniquely shaped back flipper flutters in the air before disappearing beneath the surface.  Only a small ripple is left to give evidence that these wonderful creatures are there.

Suddenly a large disturbance convinces me that there are at least three of these water animals in the lagoon.  People quietly line the shoreline.  We were all treated to a show of peek-a-boo. 

A big brown eye swept up from the waters and blinked briefly at us, then disappeared with a puff and a huff.  His flipper waved good-bye.  The oohs and ahs were generous from all of us “land lubbers”. 

We turned the bend and along the water canal with palm trees and mangroves lining the opposite shore, a tall post with a small platform 30 feet in the air captured my attention.  A bird’s nest had been built on top of the platform.  It was occupied.

This was no ordinary bird.  Are there any ordinary birds?  This was one of the carnivores of the sky, a ospey. 

She was fluffing her feathers.  My watching her didn’t faze her one bit.  Below boats motored by, cars traversed on the road, people carried on conversations in the gazebos and the sound of humans hoeing in their gardens filled the air.

People and wildlife enjoyed the community together.  It is an amazing balance of life.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

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