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fullsizeoutput_381cA severe thunderstorm is sweeping past my adopted city of Houston, Texas. My Director of Operations and I exchanged a flurry of e-communications sharing our changing opinions of what to do. We were evaluating for over 24 hours what our decision should be on keeping operations going or to shut down our seminary for the safety of our students and staff.

Timing, forecasts, current computer models of the surging storm, and plenty of prayer are all ingredients necessary for a learned decision. We have students who travel long distances to make into classes and we want to notify them ASAP if they don’t have to risk a drive in this horrible weather.

The streets around the seminary are flooding quickly. The rains poured on our part of town so fast that the storm drains couldn’t keep up. Drivers are taking too many risks.

One car tried to pull out of the neighboring parking lot. When it got to the curb, all of us in our building kept saying, “Don’t do it! Go back! It’s too deep!” The water level reached the bottom of the car. Then, it rose up to the bottom of the door.

When the tires were almost totally immersed, it was too late. A full-size SUV went driving by. The wake hit the sedan and you could see the car lurch backwards. It was over for the car.

The hazard light went on, the headlights dimmed, and the driver waded out of his car and sloshed over to the sidewalk. We could all see the dejection on his face. Someone remarked quietly, “That was a nice car too.”

We have an emergency text message system for emergencies like this. We used it to let students know that the seminary was closed due to inclement weather. There wasn’t a single email of complaint.

Now, my whole team who was here for a full day’s work are going to staying until the water subsides enough to escape and scatter for home. Until then, they have gathered in the library and are watching a movie: The Incredibles.

I walked by and heard plenty of laughter.

As long as everyone is safe, we can deal with the closure, the make up day for classes, and the inconvenience of postponing important meetings. Everyone is safe. For that I am very grateful.

photo out of my office window with filters to remove as much reflection as possible

IMG_4855.jpegThe turn into the memorial called up old feelings. We observed the modest speed limit. Clearly we were entering a solemn site.

There was a tower of chimes off to the left. It was the architect’s remembrance of the voices of the 40 heroic lives lost. Our time only allowed for the main visitor’s center.

A park ranger was looking for welcoming ears. I asked her a question. That’s all it took.

She pointed out the expanse of the memorial. Acres and acres of land had captured the vast area to capture our hearts.

Up on a hill, some what far away, we overlooked a slope that led our eyes to a distant pair of white parallel walls. Their placement kept our eyes peering for meaning. A green strip of carefully mowed grass ended at a boulder.

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Our park ranger paused. That’s it, the point of impact. Flight 93 crashed right there.

The tree line was burnt from the explosive jet fuel. Every life on the plane was immediately extinguished. The passengers were heroes.

We are not sure what great disaster their sacrifice averted, but it must have been big.

It was a reflective moment to part ways. Many of us stopped at the visitor center. President George W. Bush words played on a loop, synchronized with slides of the disaster of that day.

His presidential resolve spoke for Americans then; it was clearly resonating with all of us still. A variety of us, very diverse visitors, quietly listened. Few words were spoken among us.

There were nods shared among total strangers. Whispered words from a Vietnam veteran Staff Sgt. broke our silence. We thanked him for his service.

Yes, I recall my promise to never forget. I have kept that promise. It is not possible to forget.

IMG_4872.jpegExperiencing this memorial, feeling the solemnity, hearing Bush 43, and sharing with fellow Americans what words could not capture, remind me not just to remember but realizing what cannot be forgotten. Heroes were among us. Today many still surround us.

A flag flies in front of our home to commemorate this American change from so many years ago. Many of my neighbors have placed a flag to wave along our street so that we can all remember what none of us can ever forget. May God bless America.

photos by brucefong photography 

Unknown-5.jpegCommitment, sacrifice, and duty add up to include some of the finest people in our country. They are our US military. It was my privilege to serve as the keynote speaker at their 2019 Officer’s Christian Fellowship in White Sulphur Springs Conference Center in Pennsylvania.

There was quality all over the center. The best of what America is all about filled our meeting room, dominated the conversations in the chow hall, and electrified the lines for horse-back riding, bowling, hiking, and the shooting range. Each conversation was marked by the serious devotion to Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Included among the service personnel were the families. Spouses that knew the life of military personnel was a part of this amazing family. Hardships due to deployment separation, financial stress, relationship strains, and the like were shared freely and generously soothed with understanding ears and souls.

These devoted lives gave me a welcomed invitation to bring the Word of God to them. It was my humble contribution into their souls that I have prayed and did pray that the Almighty would sear it into their lives. We had a great connection for several days together.

Locking our hearts into prayer for the retreat, several of us met each morning at the throne of grace to entreat God to do the work that only he could. Through tears, laughter, curiosities, and wonderment we discussed the things of God and how they could be a salve, an encouragement, and vision for their future.

Unknown-11.jpegTheir world is so full of different stresses than mine. The choices that demand immediate attention rarely enter into my routine. Change of not only major proportions but frequent visitations flood their lives. These matters alone would drive me crazy!

Pray for our brothers and sisters and their loved ones who protect our nation. Entreat our Father in heaven to undergird them, provide for their needs, give them wise discernment, and surround them with the kind of Christian edification that will make their journey a blessing. Thank God that so few, who do so much, to give the rest of us our liberties, have stepped up to serve.

Not only do they do well in protection our freedoms, they also do so much to keep the spirit of the warrior strong. Each one is flexible and creative in accomplishing so much with so little under remarkable duress. They have my respect. They are in my prayers.

photos by brucefong photography

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