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IMG_5801Businesses that do the best are the ones who give their customers a little extra.  It is a selling point to do something more for those who make your business happen.  This is not an old cliché, it is a pragmatic priority.

Our anniversary comes around every year.  We save to make sure that we can enjoy a wonderful meal at a classy restaurant.  Enjoying God’s blessings over so many years is a testimony to His faithfulness and goodness.

I called one of those special places for our 38th wedding anniversary. The receptionist was very pleasant.  She asked, “Is this for a special occasion?”

Without thinking, I just reacted, “Yes, we are celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary.”
“Wonderful!” she exclaimed, “Congratulations and I will make a note of that.”

We parked and waited for a small break in our standard Houston inclement weather downpour.  When a lull came, we scampered from our vehicle and trotted together under one umbrella holding on to each other while we laughed and hopped over water puddles.  Under the cover of the building eave we shook off the beaded up rain water and casually walked to the striking front entrance of the restaurant.

When I announced to the receptionist that we were there for our reservation, she checked her ledger and smiled, “Please follow me.”  The restaurant was elegant and the atmosphere was welcoming.  Every one of the staff that we passed along the way looked up and smiled with a word of welcome.

The receptionist seated us.  A standard setting at the table was appropriate.  Then, we both noticed the added feature on our table.

Scattered on our table-cloth were confetti.  Mylar figures depicting an anniversary celebration made our setting a wonderful surprise.  We both laughed, smiled and played with the pieces of different shapes, colors and enjoyed the extra sparkle from the lights and candles.

It was a simple extra.  But, it was a surprise.  They did not have to do that but we sure enjoyed it.IMG_5810

Admittedly, this dinner at Ruth’s Chris was delicious.  The chefs at this restaurant are extraordinary.  Every bite is flavorful and makes you rehearse in your soul the meaning of savor.

At the end of the meal our very friendly waiter never asked us if we would like to order dessert.  Instead, he brought out a flaming complementary dish of sweets for us to share.  It is the little extras that make a huge difference, don’t you agree?

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

IMG_2100It is no longer possible to “not” to remember.  My calendar in my smart phone flashes a reminder.  In concert to that tickler my computer sends me an alert.  Just to make sure that I am paying attention my pad has a reminder programmed into it as well.  Then, the best reminder of all puts this anniversary into my mind, that is of course my heart.

On May 28 my bride and I celebrated 36 years together as husband and wife.  Yes, I am smiling too.  That is a long time.

We have been through thick and thin together.  God gave me a calling to His ministry and she came along for the ride.  It has been an amazing journey.

That special wedding day so many years ago was both exciting and very exciting.  Together we would take the world by storm, impact the church and earn the words of the greatest commendation any human could hear, “Well done good and faithful servants.”  The  journey had deeper lows and higher heights than we had ever imagined.

The good far has outweighed the bad.  Reminiscing over the joys heightens their impact.  Forgiving those few in our past has diluted those rare low moments.

Our waiter entertained us with a recitation of the Italian menu.  Everything that he described sounded delicious.  It was exciting to look forward to our meal.

He served us a complimentary appetizer of baguette with sauce.  It was sumptuous.  With eyes wide open we thought that if this was a taste of things to come we were in for a treat.  Our suspicions were well founded.

Yvonne had a flavorful scallop presentation.  It looked as good as it tasted.  My dish was stuffed prawns.  It was fantastic.

As we wound down our feast our waiter stopped to visit with us.  He asked us what brought us in that night.  I told him that it was to celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary.  He smiled and told us that he would be right back.

Moments later he emerged from the kitchen with a large Tiramisu dessert.  It was beautifully decorated.  What was remarkable was the sparkler that was blazing away.  We laughed, we smiled, we thanked our waiter.  It was a delightful evening in a wonderful atmosphere.  Perhaps the best part is that it is located in our neighborhood.

I suppose that this convenience matched with remarkable cuisine means that we must return.  We will be back.  Most certainly, we will return for more.

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