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For those who are followers of Jesus Christ, it is not a matter of what we know.  Rather it is more important that we know what we believe.  What we believe is not a matter of what we say.  Rather, we live what we believe.

This book series “Real Life” is about our daily living.  When we embrace and express our faith in our Savior, we live differently.  The Holy Spirit makes it possible to live each day differently because of what we believe to be true.

This volume Always Hope is about living each day after the bottom falls out from underneath us.  No one like tough times.  Trials are not our choice.  But, they happen in all of our lives.

When they come, each day keeps on coming, one after the next. They do not slow down or stop or disappear.  How we live those days when trouble has slammed into our lives is what this volume relives.

I was hurt by others and difficult circumstances.  Each day I got up and struggled through the subsequent days.  By God’s wonderful grace and the love of His finest, I kept getting up, day after day.

If you read this book and the words inside cause you to smile, laugh, hope or reflect on good things, then it was worth the effort it took to write it.  May your hope forever be a part of your new days to come.

It is available on Kindle for all e-book readers.  Or you may order a hard copy from http://www.createspace.com/4190780. Thank you and enjoy your reading!

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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

Motorcycle to Banff 2008 144It is the birthday of the seasons.  America, it is your special day.  We honor you on the anniversary of your birth.  Each of us is grateful to be a citizen in your great land.

“I pledge allegiance” out of my own thoughtful volition, under no duress or settling for the only option that I have.

“to the flag” as a symbol of the liberty and pursuit of happiness that many have died so that I would have this great privilege

“of the United States of America” where unity is fundamentally protected under our Constitution and Bill of Rights, a people representing every ethnic group in the world, united not because of our differences but because of our common commitment and devotion to freedom

“and to the Republic” to be serviced by our elected officials promoting our values and views, civil servants who know that they are in office because of our citizenship, they represent all who are their constituency, not their own personal political biases

“for which it stands” we are a nation that collectively brings our priority of national exceptionalism without apology, not in arrogance but in joy to live here and to help other people in our world when we are able to do so

“one nation” not just the ruling party, not one person’s personal ideology, not one universally extreme set of values but what all in this nation can say with pride, we are a part of this country

“under God” because there is only One source for natural law that all people can embrace, choose values that work for all, humbly enjoy our pursuits while respecting others, providentially acknowledging our own limitations while trusting by faith for His favor to continue what clearly He began

“indivisible” because unselfish people set aside divisive motives and agendas for the good of the many, demonstrating the best of what man can do for his fellow-man, a strength of united selflessness

“with liberty and justice for all” the pinnacle of our nation’s values and our best effort and means to protect and promote it, no one left out, no one marginalized, everyone given the opportunity to advance their gifts, skills and passions.

This is the allegiance that I pledge to this great nation where I was born, live and serve.  God bless America.  God bless the USA.  Happy Birthday to my Country, land of the free.  This is my country, land that I love.  I’m pledging my allegiance, America!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

The day has arrived for my bride and me to make our long journey to our next divinely appointed assignment.  While we are excited to start God’s new venture, we are also feeling that we “left our hearts in San Francisco.”  There are precious lives that we love so much that are left behind.

The church family gathered for a celebration of God’s blessings.  It was a BBQ with everything Texas.  Even the rice krispy treats were shaped into the Lone Star State.  Several testified of past blessings that were touching.

All of the gifts were very special.  One remarkable gift is an artist’s characature that had us all laughing and marvelling at the same time.  Yvonne and I are travelling to Houston on my motorcycle surrounded by special momentos of God’s rich San Francisco blessings.  That is a very special gift.

My final Sunday was full of smiles, memories relived, special words and lots of hugs.  One brother whispered a word that I will always treasure.  Another, choked up when our eyes met.  Those who have intently studied the Word with us spoke of God’s providence, sovereign hand, divine will and expressions of joy and heavenly reunion.

The next day, Bekins sent their packers to finish what we did not do and to apply their professional care to our fragile items.  They turned a house full of stuff into neatly stacked uniform boxes cradling our prescious worldly possessions.  I was amazed that two men could do so much so fast and so carefully.

Then, there is family.  After all the packing was done we rendezvoused with the Fongs.  We shared a last meal together.  It was more like a feast.  Wow, “delicious” is not sufficient to describe this meal.

The Winter melon soup was superb.  It was served a classy way: the melon itself was the pot.  All of the ingredients were not only in the soup but laid on the edge of the melon while it was served.  Presentation was spectacular and the aroma was surpassed only by the flavor.

The celebration is a memory now.  It has slipped into the recesses of our soul just like the view of San Fran shrank in my rearview mirror.  But, the lives of real people with real episodes of faith adventures are still vivid in my soul.  I love these special people.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

We have been friends for years.  Our lives have been directed into positions of leadership that have surprised us both.  In the course of being in the chair where the buck stops, we are deeply sympathetic toward each other.

My role has been changed.  Just as I simply followed God’s directives that led me into the office of leadership I have also followed His sovereignty to relocate to into roles of shepherding.  Questioning Him in times of elation, responsibility or pain is never productive; obedience and trust are sufficient.

Wherever He has led me I do the same thing.  That calling has not changed. Implementing a priority on preaching the Word, loving people and discipling men have been my priorities for generations and will continue to be.

My friend leads a school that God has powerfully used over generations.  They have produced amazing individuals who have served the LORD all around the globe.  It is an honor to not only be an alumnus but also to pray for the school regularly over the week.

Now, he has asked me to consider a very special invitation.  It has blown me away.  Never have I ever thought that this would ever be a real option for me.

Dallas Theological Seminary has called on me to serve as the Dean of DTS-Houston.  DTS has a full campus in Houston and I am ecstatic to accept God calling in this direction.  To be a part of what invested so significantly in my life is stunning.

Houston has surpassed New York as the most diverse city in the USA.  That demographic alone is exciting.  The church and DTS-Houston can model what the impact of the Gospel is all about.

As the Spirit calls those who God touches into the ministry, we can now train them to handle the Word well.  Those who lead others in the Word can love the people who gather to hear the Scriptures made clear.  They will also need to stand firm against the wiles of the Devil, persevere against the trials from enemies and remain resilient as they endure the demands of ministry to people.

I look forward to being a part of shaping those lives that God has called to ministry.  Cheering them on and training them to withstand all that come up against will be my commitment.  God is moving us to Texas and I am ecstatic!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

I am a dragon.  It was the animal sign designated to everyone born in the season when I first drew breath.  According to my cultural tradition I was born with the traits of the most magnificent of the Chinese animals.

Unlike the dragons of Europe, the Asian dragon is good.  It is full of promise, hope and productivity.  More than the strength that is physical, a dragon also connects the world with the spiritual strength from heaven.

The dragon is a symbol of a free spirit.  He does not conform to rules; those are arbitrary limits for others.  Creativity is his priority and restrictions cramp his style to be innovative and uninhibited.

As a dragon I feel what is descriptive of us.  Energy is constantly racing through my veins.  When I wake up, my mind is racing with things to do, ideas to test, thoughts to write down and options to weigh.

We think big.  As a follower of Christ, it is never acceptable to accept modest results.  Instead, we are always looking to see what God will do in His indescribable massive style.

Utterly irrepressible, the dragon doesn’t worry about details.  Whatever is the big picture is his bread and butter.  Ambition is key, not for show but a match of his faith in what God can do, what possible challenges are available and the progress that comes from success.

Dragons are independent creatures.  They will help others generously but are very reluctant to accept help from others.  Their friends benefit from their bountiful help and assistance.

Those who have a dragon as a friend, know that their loyalty is premier.  But, dragons err when they expect that same loyalty from others.  When they are betrayed it is a painful wound.

Several characteristics mark the dragon.  They are flexible, courageous and passionate.  Each dragon embraces honor, loyalty and optimism as their life values.

Dragons experience disappointment when betrayal touches their lives.  But, they grow in wisdom from those violations.  These grand creatures do not desire the spotlight.

If you have a friend who is a dragon, then you have a friend indeed.  Watch as time grows that friendship more deeply.  Then, you will be family. 

Keep up with your lifetime of loyalty.  He will keep you looking up, trusting in the spiritual strength from the Almighty.  A dragon knows that what counts is from God alone.

Happy Chinese New Year! 

photo credit: google image

Our family faces adversity just like anyone else.  We panic.  Then, we fuss a bit.

Once our first reactions are out of our system we tackle whatever stands in front of us with determination.  We do not quit.  There is always a way to overcome.

Our son is in Physician Assistant Graduate School.  He gives me a clue once in a while about how tough it is and I just fill in the blanks.  Afterall, I have been through graduate school too and the academic challenge pressed my soul like a relentless vise.

But, I did not whine.  Neither has my son.  Instead, we acknowledge the hardship and look for the positives.  Honestly, we love learning.

Every week we would get a bit of a report.  Months slowly passed.  Then, just before Christmas good news flashed on my text message reader.

Our son announced with enthusiasm: “I finished my first semester!”

Yvonne called me on the phone.  We joyously chattered about the good news.  “Should we go across the bay and celebrate and take him out to dinner?”

Quickly, I glanced at the clock.  It was 3:30PM.  The traffic would be horrendous, but “Oh well…”

I shut my office down and headed home.  Yvonne had already called our son and made arrangements.  We would have to negotiate the San Francisco rush hour traffic, pick up our son by 5:45 PM, do dinner and get him home in time for his party with his friends. 

The journey across the bay is normally a 45 minute drive.  During traffic it would be at least twice that long.  We mentally set our minds on our goal and did as little fussing as possible.

Can angels give flight through the worst of San Francisco traffic?  You betcha!  We arrived with smiles and the party began.

We headed over to a well-known eatery in Berkeley.  They serve some very good BBQ.  Yelp gives it a four star rating.  We would heartily agree!

Yvonne and Jeremy ordered BBQ prawns wrapped in bacon.  When it was presented, the aroma alone made our mouths water.  All of us followed the plates that were set on the table.

I went for their signature dish: T-Rex Beef Short Rib.  When that was brought to me my eyes were wide open.  It was perfectly roasted, ideally presented and colored with mouth-watering meat that had been smoked to perfection.

Our family motto was our clear directive that night: any reason for a party!

photo credit: brucefong photography

Modern air travel has changed over the last thirty years of my professional career.  The sound system for the passenger’s listening pleasure have improved immensely.  I like so many, however, use our own I-pods with superior stereophonic sounds. 

Rising fuel costs and security measures have been a major distraction for air carriers.  While they try and make flying more enjoyable these two external factors make this means of transportation more inconvenient.  They are real problems, as real as a very bad employee who is righteous in her own eyes. 

The security line was jammed through all of the switchbacks.  Hundreds of people were moving slowly.  Inside I groaned. 

But, one of the agents told us that we could go to the other end of the airport, pass through security there, walk around the terminal and get to our gates.  It was a little bit of a walk but it might be better than standing in line.  That’s all some of us needed and we were off to the other end of the airport.

I finally reached the security checkpoint.  The information that the guard gave us was correct.  There were only six people in front of me.  We breezed through the security.

Sure, I had to undress and redress after the machines scanned my glorious body for anything that was sharp, explosive or dangerous.  But, now I was on the inside of the terminal.  The longest line was now behind me.

Swiftly, fellow flyers and I walked through the passage way to the other terminal.  The walk was long but we passed the security area that we originally meet the massive numbers of travellers.  It was still jammed.

Now, I was at my gate.  There were no seats open for waiting passengers.  I stood, read and eventually found an empty seat.  There I collapsed only to wait for an hour and a half for my delayed plane to welcome us aboard.

I’m so glad that I got through security so quickly.  Now, I could wait in an uncomfortable chair and sleep restlessly until my number was called to board our turbo prop plane.  I fly enough that I am privileged to board early. 

Airport travel is one wait after the other.  The trick is to hurry up with privileged access to wait for everyone else who is going to the same place.  Is “airport” Latin for “waiting”?

photo credit: google image

A few years ago I sprained my ankle.  It was an excruciating experience.  The pain was like none other in my years of walking on this earth.

In my left hand I carried a fishing pole.  It was a true tool for catching fish.  The proof was in my right hand. 

A switch from a bush helped me carry my trophy.  It was a 17” brown trout, the first brownie that I have ever caught in my life.  I was hungry for more.

While I kept an eye on the river for a likely spot to wet my line, I followed a faint trail through the tall grass.  Then, the dew laden grass gave way to a dip in the terrain.  My feet slipped out from underneath me and my ankle folded like collapsible chair.

I lay on my back checking the most important things first.  My fish was still on the stick and my fishing pole was undamaged.  But, the pain in my ankle was horrendous.

For a while I lay still wondering what I was going to do if I had broken a bone.  Hopefully, there were predators nearby hungry for a meal.  Slowly, the pain subsided.

Carefully, I moved my right foot in a slow circle.  The pain was lingering but not aggravated.  Carefully, I put weight on it and could hobble gingerly.

Now it is two years later and I am still hobbling from that injury. My orthopedic surgeon said it will never get better.  Isn’t the word “never” a foreboding term?

I stopped by a specialty shoe shop.  Their niche is comfort shoes.  He was sympathetic and understood my dilemma. 

In addition to a quality ankle brace, he suggested that I consider a new kind of footwear.  It is designed to be the next best thing to walking barefoot.  This practice will strengthen the foot, leg and ankle. 

Since I have tried the shoe I have been feeling very good.  My ankle still occasionally feels the pain of the old injury, it is noticeably less predominant.  Walking is a joy that I have not taken for granted since my accident.

I ride my bicycle with these new Vibram FiveFingers.  With my ankle brace on I have even attempted a rigorous table tennis match.  Maybe there is something to the way God designed us in the first place.

photo credit: brucefong photography

The number 1,000 is formidable.  It is a lot of whatever it has recorded.  When each widget is an effort to produce, 1,000 widgets is a large number.

We can’t eat 1,000 of anything at a single meal.  We might be able to down 1,000 sesame seeds if they are disguised in soup, bread or fruit.  But, who would want to do that?

Most of us couldn’t drive 1,000 miles in a day.  Some do it on a motorcycle and get and “iron butt” award.  But, that only happens among very few riders.

The number 1,000 is special.  This blog marks that special achievement.  Today this my 1,000th posting of my blog.

In 2007 my son suggested me to start writing a blog.  My first reaction is one that I distinctly remember.  I asked him, “What’s a blog?”

Carefully my high-tech son explained the essence of blogs and blogging. When he was done, I still hadn’t had a clue as to what he was asking me to do.  I did understand the word “write” however.

That translated itself into “work”.  But, work didn’t bother me as much as “Who would want to read what I wrote?”  But the idea percolated, simmered, fermented and took root.

On the world-wide web I began to read what others were writing.  I searched the blogging world and got a feel for what was going on through the mighty combination of words.  People were interacting, conversing, emoting and declaring.  I could do this!

My son introduced me to WordPress.  He and my daughter-in-law helped me pick a wallpaper design for my blog.  Then my son gave me some guidelines that help blogs become the preferred reading by people on-line.

Then, I started writing.  I was both ambitious and a complete novice.  But, my purpose was clear and I stuck to that purpose.

My target audience was defined as well.  They are always in my mind when I write.  Ideas flowed.

Faithfully, I stuck to my regimen and after years of writing this is now blog number 1,000.  That’s a lot of writing.  For you who have faithfully followed this expression of hope and encouragement, you have done a lot of reading. 

I thank all of you for stopping by for a cup of cool water while you are on your journey called Life.  Our visits have meant a lot to me.  Your comments have been a boon to my spirit.  Please keep on reading and I will keep on writing.  I appreciate you!

photo credit: google image

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