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For my one year anniversary, I’m gonna do something a little different. Hope you enjoy it and thanks for all the people who have read over the last year. May God bless you and I appreciate your most valuable commodity; time.

We were dropped off by the shuttle van with the broken seat belts at the entrance to the big pay-to-stay parking lot, which was downtown. As we made the trek to the back forty, I could see the potential problem before we got there.

I noticed the vehicle leaning to one side from about 200 feet away. “Great”! I declared to my wife and youngest daughter. “What’s wrong”? my wife asked, confused by the fact that she didn’t see what I had. “We gotta flat tire”! I stated with a dry sense of reality.

When we finally got back on the road I drove straight to the closest tire store recommended by the parking lot attendant. While the place was fleecing us for two new front tires, we walked toward the diner recommended by the guy behind the counter.

It was a bit farther than expected and the neighborhood was something right out of a movie. I was on red alert. My wife and daughter were scared. Our suspicions were justified when my wife walked into the busiest store on the block to double check our directions.

The man working the cash register at the liquor store was helpful enough, just hard to hear through the bulletproof glass booth he was protected behind.

The walk through the underpass of a Southern California busy freeway was enough to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck, well mine anyway, not the old structure itself, but the crowd of people hanging out there.

I recognized the old familiar restaurant from my childhood. The name was changed, but all the Sambo’s restaurants were identical in those days. I noticed on the walk and inside about 25% of all the people were physically handicapped, mentally handicapped, or homeless.

As we sat down my wife welcomed what she would normally consider ridiculous behavior. “You wanna sit there”? She asked, pointing to the seat with my back to the wall in order to survey our surroundings. “What-a-you think,” I said with a chuckle.

Right after we ordered breakfast a lady sitting at the counter started screaming, “OH MY GOD”!!! – “SOMEONE CALL 911”!!! – “MY MOM”!!! – “HELP MY MOM-CALL 911”!!!- “MAMA”!!!!!

Faster than you could say, “This is turning into one weird day,” my wife was out of our booth moving like a gazelle to help the very elderly lady who looked to be choking. Another lady was there talking to the woman as my wife listened in.

The first lady didn’t have her hands on the choking woman and it looked like she was going to fall to the ground. I saw my wife move in to grab the choking lady and bumping the first lady out of the way as she did.

The first lady, deeply offended, who thought it more important to save her pride than the elderly ladies life, shouted, “I’m an RN”!!! My wife barely giving her a glance, holding the choking victim up, sternly stated back, with turned down corners of her mouth, “So am I”! Right then an EMT stepped in and my wife handed the lady to him.

As my wife sat back down, I said, “This day just gets weirder and weirder.”  “I know”! my wife agreed with widening eyes.

As we walked back through the Valley Of The Shadow Of Death I noticed something I hadn’t on the way there. The Dept. OF Social Services. That explained the neighborhood. Not that there weren’t legitimate needs in many cases, it was the opportunists that rounded the neighborhood out that told the whole story. The street walkers, thugs, and some of the businesses with cash registers and bullet proof glass.

Later in the day I got news that a customer and friend I’d done work for was in legal dispute over something I’d done. I said to my wife, “This would be the day, nothing like that has ever happened before.”

As if that weren’t enough I was contacted by three different people from my past that I hadn’t heard from in years.

I was reminded of a past that I lived in the type of danger, that I had walked through that morning.

Although delivered from that past and forgiven, I knew there were lessons to learn. This wasn’t coincidence…

God was rattling my cage and had my full blown attention, but what was the lesson?