Happy New Year 2020

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Lake Tahoe, Ca

Happy New Year! It’s the start of a new decade. It seems surreal that the 2010s are over.

We enjoyed the Christmas season with family eating a savory ham dinner with all the trimmings, watching Hallmark movies and putting together a puzzle.

Below is a picture of us at Eastridge Mall where we watched the final episode of Star Wars.  My brother, Greg, reminded me we watched the first episode as kids in 1977. Wow! Here we are forty-two years later wrapping up the saga.

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Connie, Greg, Austin, Alicia, Randy & me San Jose, Ca

I didn’t grow up in a family that made new year’s resolutions.  Although, I don’t have any resolutions for 2020, I am looking forward to our son graduating high school and our daughter learning  to drive.

I pray you and yours have a happy and healthy year.

Did you make a resolution? I’d love to hear about it.

Blessings, Rebecca

Merry Christmas

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For unto us a Child is born,
unto us a Son is given;
and the government will be upon His shoulder.
and His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6-9

From our family to yours we wish a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Blessings, Rebecca

What are your holiday plans? I’d love to hear about it.

Humble for the Holidays

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Trees at my work

This past weekend my car gave me trouble enaging in the drive position. I sighed and said, “Really Lord? It’s Christmas.”

Thankfully we have a friend who is a mechanic and he is checking out the transmission for us.

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Fireplace at my work

As a result, I’ve told family and friends it’s going to be a light Christmas for gifts since we are down one vehicle. Talk about humbling.

My daughter reminded me that Christmas is about baby Jesus’ birth and spending time with family and friends.

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She is right. I need not worry about circumstances that are out of my control and concentrate on the joy of Christmas.

Have you ever had to scale back during the holidays? I’d love to hear about it.

Blessings, Rebecca

Thankful

Two toms at my work

I would like to wish you and your a very Happy Thanksgiving.

As we prepare for our annual Thanksgiving meal, I’ve been contemplating about the things I am thankful for in my life. The list grew longer as I thought about, because we have so much to be grateful for.  However, I’d like to share with you just a few of them this day.

1. God

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. -Psalm 100:4

2. Family & Friends

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy… Philippians 1:3

3. Health

4. Shelter, warmth & security

5. Food & clean water

6. Clothing & shoes

7. Workplace & community

8. Hot showers

9. Chocolate & mochas

10. And for our readers like you…

What are you thankful for? I’d love to know.

Blessings, Rebecca

Staff Retreat

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We are setting back into our routine after mandatory power outages. It was a challenge for our family to go without electricity for up to 48 hours multiple times. We have an electric wall heater, water heater and stove/oven. So, it was cumbersome to function. I know I appreciate utilities much more these days.

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Thankfully I joined my coworkers for a staff retreat at majestic Lake Tahoe. It was a good time for fun, fellowship and food. It was just the thing I needed to rest my soul for a few days.

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We were reminded of the importance of community which is countercultural in America as individualism is encouraged. Pasor Renee reiterated that Gid designed us to do life together.

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Have you attended a retreat? If so, I would love to hear about it.

Blessings, Rebecca

Suprises

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Do you believe the Lord like to pleasantly surprise his children? I do.  Case in point some friends of ours invited us to a Newsboys concert in Monterey, California.  You may know Newsboys from their movie cover songs God’s Not Dead or Guilty. Sadly, we had to decline, because it just wasn’t in our budget.

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Surprise #1 – Shortly thereafter we receive a call back from them offering to take us. Wow!

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Surprise #2 – We arrived at the theater which was gorgeous and I noticed the sign stated Newsboys United and I thought to myself, What’s United?

Suprise #3 – Two of the original band members, Peter Furler and Phil Joel, who left 11 years ago join them on stage. Cool!

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Suprise #4 – One of the lead singer, Michael Tate’s, old band member from DC Talk, Kevin Max, also joined on stage and sang a throwback song Jesus Freak. I used to listen to DC Talk back in the 90s. I never put two and two together. Very cool!

Surprise #5 – As we were exiting the theatre, we bumped into two our dear friends Ken and Shaunna.  It’s such a small world.

You may say to yourself, Coincidence.  Well, I believe God works through people to bless people and He provides divine appointments, not chance.

How have you seen the Lord surprise you?

Blessings, Rebecca

 

College Tuition & Funding

20190929_183217.jpgAs parents of a senior in high school, we are navigating our way through college planning.

Austin has gone on field trips to local colleges such as San Jose State University, Cabrillo, and UC Santa Cruz to determine if that’s where he’d like to study.

He also traveled out of the area for a summer camp and stayed on Westmont College campus in Santa Barbara.

In addition, he has searched for prospective colleges in the Pacific Northwest near his cousins.

And so begins his college application process.

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Parallel to chosing where he’d like to go, we are researching college tuition and funding.

So far we have learned of four ways to pay for college.

1. Savings

One way of paying for college classes, dorm fees, food, books, etc. is to save up.

Not every family can afford to pay for a higher education out of pocket.

2. Student Loans

Another way to supplement college costs is to borrow money. There are institutions that will lend students money at low interest rates.

3. Financial Aid

Another way to help with payments is financial aid. The federal program is called FAFSA and the application process starts this week for students starting in the Fall of 2020.

4. Scholarships

Another way to help with costs is scholarships.  There are numerous organizations that offer money to students.

We began researching what’s available and learned there are varying amounts of money given away (i.e. $500, $1,000, $10,000, $25,000, etc.)

Each donor gives away based on a criteria such as being a student, living in a particular area, conducting a certain amount of volunteerism, grades, career choice, etc.

In order to obtain the funding, the student typically has to complete an application and/or essay.

We found it helpful to get a list of available scholarships from the school counseling office. Also, there are agencies out there who help you locate available funding. One such site is The Scholarship System. I watched their free webinar and learned how the owner was able to graduate debt free via scholarships. If you’d like in depth information, you must purchase their program.

Anyhow, we are investigating and discovering the right school and ways to fund it.

If you have gone through this process with your child(ren), I’d love to hear your advice.

Blessings, Rebecca

Budget Friendly Entertainment

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This week I wanted to share with you 3 budget friendly ways for entertainment.

Our family is on a tight budget and we have to find economical ways to go out. Here are a few ways we save…

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1. Free

One way we go out is to find free activities such hiking, walking, going to the beach, swim at our community pools, etc.

In our community, there are often free family activities such as Music In The Park, Movies On The Beach, etc. I am sure if you check your local paper you too could find free community gatherings.

Also, check out businesses to see if there are free days for county residents (i.e. Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seymour Lab, etc.)

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2. Reduced Price

Another way we go out is finding reduced priced activities.  For instance, one of my co-workers sent out an email for employees to purchase Great America tickets for $10 each. They are regularly $39.99 each. Also, their parking fee is normally $25, however, if you purchase a pass on line in advance, it is only $20.

Locals discounts are a great way to save funds. Many businesses will offer discounted meals activities and free parking for locals on specific days/times. For instance, the Scotts Valley cinema has $5 movies all day on Tuesday.

Coupons are also a great way to find a deal. You can find them online or in the newspaper.

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3. Sweepstakes

Another way we go out is we enter sweepstakes or contests that offer free tickets.

Two weeks ago, we went to Raging Waters for free, because I won four passes from Bay Area Parent. The tickets are normally $42.95 per person. In addition, I saw an online special they were running where you could buy a pass on line for just $29.99.

I thank the Lord that I have won tickets to such places as Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Roaring Camp, Raging Waters, and Santa Cruz County Fair, because every little bit helps.

These are just a few ways we find budget  friendly entertainment. I’d love to hear from you…

What are ways your family save money on entertainment?

Blessings, Rebecca

Grace

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It had been several years since we went to a movie theater, because we have been disappointed with the lack of wholesome family movies in recent years. However, my co-worker told us about Overcomer. So, we decided to check it out.

It’s about high school basketball coach John Harrison and his team face an uncertain future when their town’s largest manufacturing plant shuts down unexpectedly. As hundreds of people move away, John reluctantly agrees to coach cross-country, a sport he doesn’t even like. His outlook soon changes when he meets Hannah Scott, an unlikely runner who pushes herself to the limit. Inspired by the words and prayers of a new friend, John starts to train Hannah for the biggest race of her young life.

The over arching theme to me was grace & reconcilliation.

It reminds me of God’s grace for us and His request for us to be gracious to others.

Here’s three ways to show grace to others:

1. Love – Love is an action that requires sacrafice whether it’s time, money, work, etc.

For instance, the community we live in loved on us during my recent  surgery recuperation by bringing us meals for six weeks.  That’s a long time.

I recently learned that a couple in our neighborhood had a baby and the mother’s c-section recovery is more difficult than anticipated.  Her friend set up a meal train for them. I signed up to donate a meal, because I want to reciprocate the love I received.

2. Forgive – Forgiveness pardons an offence. Recently my husband prayed for a lady in her 80’s whose knees were in chronic pain. Initially she didn’t see results. Randy asked her if there was anyone she needed to forgive and she confessed holding a grudge against her mother and siblings since childood. Once she freely forgave, they prayed again and the Lord healed her. Praise God for physical and emotional pain!

3. Compassion – Sympathizing with someone during their crises. My husband is a Chaplain. He has cunducted funerals where he has consoled the grieving family members and they appreciated a listening ear.

I highly recommend Overcomer. It was a heartwarming film about overcoming adversity. Warning: You may want to bring some tissue as it is a tear jerker.

How do you show or receive grace?

Blessings, Rebecca