Christmas Season (Part Deux)

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I can’t believe there is less than three weeks until Christmas.

For a change up, we’ve been trying some old and new things this year.

Concert

We attended our first Mount Hermon Christmas concert & buffet. We savoured a delicious prime rib, salmon and ham dinner before listening to these amazing musicians/singers. This Louisiana trio, The Foto Sisters,  sang/played a mixture of traditional and original Christmas songs. Wow!

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Boutique

My daughter and I enjoy attending the annual Mount Hermon boutique to purchase one of a kind gifts for loved ones. Here’s Alicia in 2013 and 2018

Tree

I have never wrapped ribbon around our tree before. I watched a tutorial from Laura at Garden Answers and thought we’d give it a try. I kinda like it…

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Again, all seasonal preparation is in anticipation of Christmas; the birth of our savior Jesus. My favorite Christmas song is Mary Did You Know written by Mark Lowry. I wonder if she pondered the magnitude of her call.

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How are you spending your Christmas season?

Blessings,   Rebecca

Bonus

A friend of ours gave us two tickets to see our local D League basketball team Santa Cruz Warriors.

We sat mid-court in the second row, and no one sat in from of us. Although they lost by one point to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, it was eletric. Below you will see their mascot Maverick. Also, Austin who is 6’2″ is pictured next to #55 Isaiah Hartenstein the Center for Vipers and Houston Rockets. He stand 7′.

 

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Christmas Season

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. – Meredith Wilson

I can’t believe it’s December already. This year seems to be flying by. Even my 14-yr-old daughter said insightfully that it seems as you get older, time goes by faster.

Here are three events that ushered in the season for us this weekend.

Church

I attended our annual church women’s tea.  It was a lovely time spent with friends fellowshipping, eating, watching a musical play and listening to Author Kathi Lipp talk about keeping our peace during the Christmas season.

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Shop

My daughter helped me Christmas shop for family and friends. We picked up gifts, tree decorations and a wreath for our front door.

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Decorate

Alicia and I then decorated our cabin while the boys worked.

We put out various town pieces,  nutcrakers, advent calendar and ornaments; handmade, old and new.

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All this preparation in anticipation of Christmas; the birth of our savior Jesus. It is quite possibly The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. – Edward Pola and George Wyle

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How are you spending your Christmas season?

Blessings,   Rebecca

College Tour

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Have you ever toured a college? I graduated San Jose State University in 1992. However, I don’t recall touring any college campus as a high schooler.

We have two college bound students. As a part of their education experience,  their school helped them to tour local colleges by taking field trips to UCSC, SJSU and Cabrillo.

Our daughter expressed an interest during middle school in attending Stanford University.  I committed to taking her there to check it out one day.

This past Sunday, we met my brother and sistet-in-law in Redwood City for pasta at The Old Spaghetti Factory; one of my favorite restaurants.

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Afterwards,  we grabbed as mocha at Philz Coffee and drove south on the El Camino to Palo Alto and toured the Cardinal’s campus.

The chapel is breathtaking.  It is decorated with several beautiful stain glass windows and mosaic tile walls. We walked into a lovely choir singing hyms in preparation for the Roman Catholic service.

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We wondered along the paths that lead aound various historic buildings.

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The bookstore was an amazing four stories loaded with college fanfare.

At the end of of our journey, we explored the campus from our car and saw numerous dorm halls and sports complexes.

I am confident we will have many more college visits in the next couple of years until the kiddos determine what school is the best fit for each of them.

Blessings, Rebecca

Recreation

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All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. – Anonymous 1659

It’s easy to tackle the todo list for me. I have to be purposeful about play. That’s how I am wired.

This past weekend, we were invited to attend a Christian camp in Scotts Valley at Redwood Glen.

We enjoyed fun, food and fellowship with three local churches: Pleasure Point, Hilltop and The Gathering.

Play is natural for children.  Here’s my daughter resting after skateboarding with her friend Heather.

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Here’s my son playing basketball with some friends.  His favorite pastime.

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We are blessed to work at Mount Hermon and Mission Springs where there are many activities to chose from. Here are some recent outings.

Also, I love the Santa Cruz mountains and ocean. There is so much natural beauty and fun things to do. Here are just a couple of things we enjoy.

There are so many fun things to do as a family, couple or individually.  Again, I need to be purposeful about play, because it’s easy for me to work at the office and then come home to chores, errands, homework help,  etc.

How about you? How do you enjoy recreation?

Blessings,  Rebecca

California Fires

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Photo by KRCR

Just a short three weeks ago, I wrote about our neighborhood fire.  There are three severe fires burning in both Northern and Southern California: Camp, Woosley and Hill.

In addition, we’ve had several local vegetation fires along with a few structural fires. I don’t remember a time when there has been so many fires in California.

The state has issued a Red Flag warning by agencies such as Cal Fire informs communities of critical fire weather conditions of the combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures.

Camp Fire – To date, 52,000 people evacuated, 105,000 acres burned, 6,500 homes/267 commercial buildings destroyed, and 23 casualties have happened in Butte County.

It’s difficult to fathom the town of Paradise has burned to the ground; homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, etc. – all gone.

We were supposed to send our son to winter camp up at Maryville; just 49 miles east of this raging fire. We decided to keep him home for safety concerns.

Woosley Fire – To date 250,000 people evacuated, 70,000 acres burned, 150 homes destroyed and 2 people have parished.

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Photo by CBS Los Angeles

Hill Fire – has consumed 6,100 acres.

I learned that that Santa Cruz County air quality should be right around 100 and we were notified that it is at 175. There are agencies such as Air Now that notify citizens of poor air quality that could impact folks at risk for respiratory duress.

We have been staying inside for the most part. My husband and I went to our local laundromat to clean our clothes and were stunned by the red sun surrounded by a thick cloud of smoke. All this from just 200 miles distance. My pictures don’t do it justice.

As I read through social media, I noticed several events were canceled such as local children’s sports, Monterey Bay Half Marathon, etc.

From these types of crises, I’ve have learned a few things.

1. Have an evacuation plan with a “To Go” box containing important items needed placed in a central location.

2. Have dry food, water, blanket and flashlight in your vehicle(s).

3. Debrief with family/friend(s) to work through any concerns/fears.

4. Sign up for Reverse 911 which notifies you of local emergencies.

This list is not inclusive. We welcome suggestions you have to help us prepare for emergency situations.

Below is a short list of agencies that have helped friends of mine through a crisis:

Red Cross

Salvation Army

●Churches and non-profit organizations such as VCUM.

Our prayers are with all who are involved in these fires.

Blessings. Rebecca

 

Sacred Ground/Sticky Floors Book Review and Giveaway

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About the Book

How Less Than Perfect Parents Can Raise (Kind of) Great Kids Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors by Jami Amerine
Eugene, OR – If one of your finest motherhood moments involves sitting in the back of a police cruiser with powdered doughnut on your face, being held for questioning for possession of narcotics, meet Jami Amerine, your new BFF.

Affectionally called the Lucille Ball of the Internet, Amerine, a mother of six  has often found herself in moments of motherhood mayhem like the police cruiser incident. It was in one of those moments when a text from a friend began to change her perspective on mothering. It took her eyes off the
mess and she began to focus on the sacred in each moment. “I’m sure the words ‘sacred ground’ conjure up some images for you and, most likely, they aren’t visions of where you are standing right now,” says Amerine. “If, like me, you’ve stepped on a Lego while barefoot, it can be difficult to wrap your
mind around the divine qualities of the path beneath your feet. But the place where you stand now, the place where you care for and lead those you love, is sacred ground.”

Amerine believes the essence of
parenting is less a laundry list of “how-to’s” or “three guarantees to raise perfect, God-fearing children,” and more a step by step trusting of a God who calls us daughters. Maybe you’re the mom, like Amerine, who sent her child to military school or watched a child walk away from the faith you worked so hard to instill. Or, maybe you’ve somehow bought into the parenting lie that it’s your fault when your kids make poor choices, do things you’ve never dreamed of, or choose to live with values far from your own.
In Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, Amerine takes mothers of all ages inside the joyful chaos of motherhood, sharing
her adventures and mishaps and encouraging moms to let go of “perfect” parenting and find rest in the perfect
Parent.

While Amerine relates to women who feel they’ve messed up as a mom—believing they’ve failed their children,
their spouse, and their God—she offers hope and shares what she has discovered:
• The biggest parenting lie we often believe
• Why we need to seek the Bible and the wisdom of spiritual giants
• Why we can’t make our kids love Jesus
• How to rest in our identity as daughters of a perfect Father
• Why our belief in Jesus is the thermostat for our home
• How we need to let Jesus be Jesus for our children
“The sacred ground of my home, where my children will learn about Jesus Christ, where He dwells with us has
sticky floors,” says Amerine. “In my journey as mother, I have given up my dignity, my last French fry, and my
whole heart. I now believe this journey we’re on is not about being a perfect parent. It is about being parented by a
perfect Father. It is about uncovering and trusting that perfect Parent so you can parent with your messes and
flaws and be present for little human beings in want.”

Meet the Author

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Jami Amerine posts about Jesus, parenting, marriage, and the general chaos of life. She holds a master’s degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development.

She’s been featured on numerous occasions on foreverymom.com and several other syndicated sites
including Scary Mommy and Mamalode.

She’s also been featured on Fox News, Today Parenting, and Huffington Post.

Jami loves her husband and kids, is afraid of flying, addicted to Jesus, Facebook, blogging, and babies. She loves to travel and hang at her parents’ lake house outside of Houston. Her dad is her #1 fan. She has run the gamut in
trying to raise perfect humans and is proud to say… she failed. They are imperfectly wonderful! She is a Christian who tends to get snarky and is anti-Jesus fish bumper stickers because she is a lousy driver.

Jami and her husband, Justin, have six kids, are active in foster care advocacy and reform, and live in Texas.  Learn more about Jami at www.sacredgroundstickyfloors.com

Author’s Interview

1. Jami, you and your husband, Justin, have six children ranging from young adult to preschooler. Tell us a bit about your family.

Justin and I have been married for 26 years.  His cousin introduced us.  We have 4 biological children. Maggie is 23, she is married and runs an embroidery shop from her home. John is 20, he is our Marine. Luke, who wrote the afterword to my new book, just turned 19, he lives with us and works and studies yoga.  And then Sophie is 16, she is a junior in high school.  Then, we started all over with foster care and adoption.  We met Sam for the first time when he was 10 days old.  He is now six and in kindergarten.  Charlie, was three months old when we first met him.  He is now 4.  We have had some short-term foster placements and one very long one.  The long-term foster placement was with us for two years, she has been gone a year now.  We relocated to the North Houston area a year ago.  We are 5 minutes from my parents and sister.  My brother and his family live about 10 miles away.  We are very close to my family, not just in proximity.

2. You interact with women daily through your blog and ministry, particularly moms. What do you think are some of the biggest issues that moms are facing?

Well, there are health and marital struggles, as always.  But I think one of the biggest struggles Christian moms face is the truth of who they are in Christ.  We are daughters.  Our motherhood did not negate our birthright as daughters.   When our kids are failing, it is easy to let that burden define us.  I have come to a place in my walk where I recognize that my kids are wholly a part of me and wholly apart from me.  There are so many things I want for my children, protecting their innocence seems like the biggest hill to climb in this day and age.  But, I really believe God and what He says about me and my children.  We are righteous because of He who died.  When I parent or correct them from this place, the world seems a lot less hopeless.  

3. If you spend any time on Facebook or other social media, motherhood is often painted as this exhausting life that requires hiding in the bathroom and drinking copious amounts of wine just to make it through. It may get a laugh but why do you think our culture has this view of motherhood? Our culture may think it is funny, but I am a good mom.  The majority of my readers are good moms.  And you know what, I really like my kids.  They make me laugh.  I enjoy their company.  I am tired, sometimes I need a medicinal fix, but I am proud to say, I love my babies.  I want younger women to know that.  This is a great gig. 

4. You write that of all the lies you believed in the earlier years of parenting, the greatest was believing that your hard work could bring you peace. Can you explain more?  I really believed in what I call an if/then Jesus.  If I am perfect, then my kids won’t struggle.  And I worked tirelessly to be everything.  When they or I stumbled, I tucked tail and waited for the wrath.  Wrath that was resolved on Calvary.  Good things happen and bad things happen.  God remains.  I love this about Him.  

5. How do we let go of the hold we often have on our kids and let God parent us?  Believe Him.  Not just believe He exists, BELIEVE what He says about you.  You are His.  They are His.  We are their brothers and sisters in Christ.  He is just good.  We are totally in His care.  And so are they.  It takes practice… but this is my battle cry.  

6. What encouragement can you offer moms who are exhausted from trying to be the perfect parent?  You are perfected.  He chose you, specifically for these humans, who He knows and loves even more than you can fathom.  You do what you are best at, let Him fill in the gaps.  Pray without ceasing, and believe.  And never be afraid to ask, HELP MY UNBELIEF.  I know for a fact, He is totally cool with that request. 

May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained.  Jami

Book Review

I enjoyed reading Sacred Ground Sticky Floors (How Less-Than-Perfect Parents Can Raise Kind of Great Kids.  Jami shares her ups and downs of parenting and is totally relatable. I appreciate her transparency in being a mother. I recommend your read her latest book. In fact…

Giveaway

Now it’s your turn to read Sacred Ground Sticky Floors as we’re giving away a FREE copy. I’d love to hear from other Moms and Dads seeking to raise their children with godly character. Simply comment below on how you train up your child(ren). Your name will then be placed in a drawing.

On November 12, 2018, we will randomly select a winner. The winner must supply his/her mailing address to us no later than November 19, 2018.

One Free copy will then be shipped directly to the winner’s address provided. The winner must reside in the continental United States of America.

Blessings,  Rebecca

 

Fellowship

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“Hey Becky, we are camping in Felton tonight and we’d love to see you.” This is the text I received Thursday afternoon from my Uncle Jim.

He and my Aunt Cookie are spontaneous retired folks from Montana. They parked their RV two miles from our place. They picked a fabulous time to travel through California as our weather has been high 70s, low 80s.

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I called my brother who works about 75 miles away to come join us. We enjoyed sweet fellowship over a delicious meal catching up on our lives.

They packed up and headed to Vegas.  Then Arches, Bryce and Zion National parks before heading home.

On Saturday, we joined friends, Bill and Linda, on their porch enjoying good conversation and a mocha.

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View of redwoods from porch swing

On Sunday, my brother, Greg, and his wife, Connie, joined my dad, Jim, and Step-Mom, Dinky, at Harry’s Hofbrau smorgasbord. As always,  Harry’s delivered a scrumptious home style meal.

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We talked and ate for an hour or so. Then, we transferred to my parent’s home to continue visiting.

As the hours passed, we chatted and watched the Warriors beat the Nets, the Cardinal beat the 49ers and half the World Series with Red Sox against Dodgers.

Afterwards, we headed back to our cabin to get ready for school and work the next day.

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When we arrived home, our son , Austin, said, ” We’ve had a good weekend.”

“Yes, we did,” I said.

There’s something about fellowshipping with others that fills us up with joy and satisfaction.

How do you fellowship with others and how does it make you feel?

Blessings,  Rebecca

Fire

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4am Sunday I awoke to the sounds of crackling and popping.  I thought to myself, Is someone walking around outside our place? I looked out our side window and saw nothing. I pulled back our front door curtain and to my horror, I saw a fire raging.

I yelled, “Fire” to alert my husband two kids who were still in bed. We threw on our shoes, grabbed valuables and evacuated.

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As I was running out the door, I dialed 911. Within minutes five agencies responded to extinguish the flames.

The darkness of early morning accentuated the orange blaze.

Our community gathered watch as the  neighbor’s house was engulfed.

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Embers floated throughout the sky. Two more neighboring houses,  a tree and brush also caught fire.

The firefighters tackled it from all angles.  We so appreciate their bravery and skill protecting life and property.

I thank the Lord everyone safely evacuated their homes.

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Here is a couple of news briefs reporting it: Felton Fire BL Fire SC Sherriff  Patch

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I learned during this crises that life is delicate and to cherish family, community and  an emergency/evacuation plan.

Blessings,  Rebecca

Spontaneous Shopping and Dining

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My daughter asked me if we could go shopping over the hill, because she received gift cards for her birthday.

We went to Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose where she shopped at her favorite store Forever 21. She found a new shirt and sweatshirt.

Next, she checked out Hollister and bought a cute shirt.

We headed over to Old Navy where my son found an athlete shirt and used one of his gift cards.

Austin wanted to window shop downstairs where the high end stores are located. We saw Tiffany & Company, Cartier, Prada, Coach, Luis Vuitton, Saint Laurent and a couple of stores we had never heard of Balenciaga and Tadashi Shoji.

As we strolled along, the door guards and robotic security guard greeted us.

We crossed the street to shop at Santana Row so Alicia could use her H&M gift card. I chuckled to myself as we arrived in our 1999 Toyota Camry we lovingly named, “Betsy.” I parked near a Lamborghini,  McLaren and Audi R8 Etron.

She found an adorable purse and I found a comfy sweatshirt.

On our way out, the kids popped into Gucci. Some of their classmates wear sporty designer sneakers, and they wanted to check them out.

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Our stomachs started rumbling. So, we headed over to In and Out burgers. It’s a treat to eat there, because we don’t have them in Santa Cruz.

We hopped in Betsy and headed to DSW Shoes to find sneakers for Austin. We had never shopped there before. Alicia tried on high heels for the first time.

Austin asked if we could go to Dick’s Sporting Goods. We drove 5 miles to Sunnyvale.  He found a cool pair of Addidas shoes.

Exhausted,  I drove 60 miles back home and rested for the night.

Randy conducted an eulogy recently for a friend/fellow firefighter, and his widow blessed us with a gift card to the Chaminade Resort.

We enjoyed their Sunday brunch featuring omlet, waffle and prime rib stations. There were salads, fruit, stuffed chicken, stir fried vegetables, potatoes, bacon/sausage, homemade breads and crepes. Our delicious meal was topped off by decadent desserts such as dark forest cake, homemade brownies/cookies, cheesecake,  ice cream and chocolate fondue.

It was an unique weekend for sure. We thank the Lord for extravagant blessings.

Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone and tried something new? I’d love to hear about it?

Blessings, Rebecca

Dwell

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Annette. Sandi, Me and Pamela 

I attended the annual PSWC women’s conference for the third time. It is a funtastic weekend gathering together to worship, learn, eat, play and rest.

20181007_165451Much time was spent around this fire pit eating snacks and sharing stories with one another late into the night.

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Pastor Rici Skei

Our retreat speaker was an amazing teacher. She taught us the importance of dwelling with God; taking time to be still before the Lord regularly.  I’ll be honest it challenged me, because our busy schedules can keep us from just being still.

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AVA and New Day for Children

I also learned the PSWC Covenant Church members are compassionate about helping others. They had representatives there who shared about two organizations they support; one for battered women and the other for children rescued from human trafficking.

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In addition,  they brought their missionarie from Chile to share what’s happening in South America; especially with displaced citizens fleeing from dangerous towns gripped by drug cartel.

All in all, it was a nice time with girl friends relaxing. And, I didn’t have to cook or clean. Wink. Wink.

Have you attended a women’s conference? If so, please share with us. 

Blessings,  Rebecca