Once upon a time a fairly long time ago, on January 15, 1954, there was born in the city of Brooklyn, New York, a little Chinese boy. He was given the name Cliff James Chin by his parents, not Clifford or Clifton, just Cliff.
When Cliff was three years old his family moved to Florham Park, New Jersey. They chose a beautiful house on a lot filled with rolling hills. Perfect for sledding in winter and for children to play outside in spring, summer, and fall. But for Cliff, the best part of their new yard was the caterpillars. They would fall onto their back porch where he and his grandfather would hold hands and jump on them causing their untimely death.
Cliff was the first Asian in his school and experienced all the difficulties that go along with that distinction. Through it all he gained a strength of character that would serve him well for all of his days.
When he was 11 years old, he went to Word of Life Camp where he met the Lord, an encounter he would never forget and one that would also serve him well. He continued through school eventually attending college, his first year at the University of Redlands in California and the remainder of his college years at Denison University in Ohio.
While in Ohio he had another encounter with the Lord. Showing him that his natural inclination to be quiet and shy was, for him, a sin. The Lord drew him out of himself and he became the leader of an on-campus christian group, Denison Christian Fellowship. After graduating, he stayed in Ohio and worked for a year at Aetna Insurance Co.. Cliff left Ohio to return to New Jersey in 1978 because the Lord had other plans.
Once upon a time, a slightly shorter time ago, on October 18, 1959, there was born, in the city of Newark, New Jersey, a little Italian-Irish girl. She was named Roxanne Teresa Sicurello, after her father, Rocco (or so she thought), and her paternal grandmother, Teresa.
Roxanne started kindergarten at 4 years old and cried for two weeks straight. Her earliest memory of school was standing with her head tilted back at an uncomfortable angle so she could see her classmates faces.
When Roxanne was 6 years old, her Mom found the family a house in Whippany, New Jersey. It was a little house with a swayback roof, but the property was big, beautiful, and full of flowering trees and bushes. The first people on the street with an Italian last name, they were told that some neighbors were sure the neighborhood was going downhill.
Roxanne spent the early years of her life in other people’s garbage. Her first find was a large pink poodle that, unbeknownst to her, was covered in ants. When her mother would go to the window and call, “Roxanne” the neighborhood kids would reply, “She’s in the garbage can”, and they were usually right.
Roxanne went through her school years reading anything she could, never studying, and always procrastinating. She, amazingly, did very well.
On May 31, 1977, Roxanne attended a church youth meeting. While there, the Lord spoke to her heart and asked to come in. Roxanne was not sure about this, but the Lord had other plans. She waited until she got home and then she said, “Okay”.
She started going to Brooklake Community Church in Florham Park, New Jersey, with her family. Oddly enough, this was the same church that Cliff’s family went to. It was a small church so everyone knew everyone, but Roxanne didn’t know Cliff, at least, not yet.
When Cliff came home in 1978, he and Roxanne met. On her 19th birthday, Cliff asked her to go out to dinner with him. They went to the Widow Brown Restaurant in Madison, New Jersey and they both had the Seafood Buffet. Roxanne was nervous. Her Grandma Moon told her she had to act like a lady, something she didn’t know how to do. The jig was up when she saw spots before her eyes and Cliff told her that she had spaghetti sauce on the left lens of her glasses. This was the beginning of God’s plan.
In February of 1979, Cliff told Roxanne that he wanted their relationship to be a real commitment to one another. Roxanne wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but she said “okay”. Cliff realized this went over Roxanne’s head and said, “I’m asking you to marry me.” Roxanne replied with a much more enthusiastic, “Okay!”
On September 22, 1979, Cliff and Roxanne were married. It was all a part of the “plan”.
Today, their three grown children, their children’s spouses, and their six grandchildren, all attend the same church together. Today, on this date, they celebrate 38 years of loving one another and walking hand-in-hand with their Lord, who they both feel, makes wonderful “plans”.