Rebecca Duvall

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Friends

12 friends necklaceI’m thankful for the friends God has placed in my life.

A friend…

 

 

  • is someone who loves you for who you are
  • loves you through your craziness
  • offers advice when requested
  • supports you, even when you don’t take their advice
  • prays for you when you ask
  • prays for you even when you don’t ask
  • is someone to laugh with
  • is someone to cry with
  • is someone to enjoy life with
  • can see through a fake smile
  • stands by you, always
  • stands the test of time & distance
  • offers sympathy & comfort
  • can never lose a place in your heart
  • is someone to share your thoughts with, without judgement
  • is a gift from God

12 Proverbs 17-17

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, thank you for the friends you place in our lives. I pray we would draw closer to them as we draw closer to You, Amen.

My New Love

Lombard StI find it absolutely beautiful how God opens our eyes to see things in new ways.

Back in 2012 when I was told my husbands heart surgery was taking place in San Francisco I was terrified. Not only because, well dah, he was having heart surgery, but because it meant I would need to be in San Francisco too. Staying in the city while my husband was in the hospital or driving back and forth each day were both scary scenarios for me.

I’m not cut out to be driving around in the city. I’m a calm, go with the flow kind of driver. Most of my friends call me the ‘granny driver’. I think you need to be an aggressive driver in order to fit in well in the city, and I’m not even close to that.

Almost a year ago my dad took my daughters and I to the city via the ferry. It was unusually warm that day, which I loved, and we walked everywhere. Walking around San Francisco is a great way to see the sights and experience it to the fullest. The main purpose of this visit was to see a few of San Francisco’s privately owned open public spaces. There are many beautiful views to be seen.

Even though I wasn’t familiar with the city, I felt relaxed and had a wonderful time because our tour guide, my dad, was familiar with where we were. You see, my dad and brother go to the city often to explore.

Recently I had the opportunity to go on a getaway with my friend Brigitte. We had many places to choose from, but San Francisco quickly came to mind. I suggested taking the ferry, but my friend offered to drive. Thank goodness, because I wasn’t offering! Who wants to be stressed out when you’re supposed to be having fun?  We passed on taking the ferry and chose to drive since it helped keep the expense down.

We had no clue where we should stay. I asked my dad, but his suggestions were a little out of our price range. He likes to stay in the Union Square area. We knew we wanted to stay somewhat close to Fisherman’s Wharf, so we started our search there. After looking into several choices, some over our budget and some in questionable areas, we landed on the Holiday Inn on Van Ness. We stayed on the 24th floor with a beautiful view of the city.SF View HolidayInn

Other than eating fresh seafood from Fisherman’s Wharf we had no agenda. So after we checked into our room, we grabbed a map and headed out the door. I suggested walking, but my friend didn’t enjoy walking the way I do (I hope to change this someday). We decided to take the bus, but had no idea how the bus system worked. To solve this problem we walked into the market next to the bus stop to ask. To our surprise both the clerk behind the counter and the customer he had just helped gave us all the information we could possibly need to confidently ride the city bus.

We hopped on the next bus headed to Fisherman’s Wharf, found some deliciously fresh seafood and a place to eat while listening to live music on the Wharf. As we sat on the bench singing along to Happy by Pharrell Williams, we discussed moving on when the song ended. Then Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars came on and we both jumped up and started dancing and singing. I felt like a little kid and it was wonderful! As I looked around I noticed we were the only ones dancing around, but it didn’t bother me a bit. We were having fun and that’s all that mattered in that moment.

After wandering around the wharf for a while, we decided to try and figure out where the food trucks were that someone told Brigitte about. All we knew was it was next to Fort Mason by the water. We made our best guess after looking over the map and jumped on the next bus heading in the general direction we thought we needed to go. As we were discussing what stop to take and where we were heading, a few locals chimed in. They told us we were heading in the wrong direction, and explained which way to go after getting off the bus. I couldn’t tell you where we were walking, but the houses in this area were beautiful and the streets were quiet. The next thing we knew, we were at the Yacht Club next to a park. Still having no idea where the food trucks were, we decided to ask a local for help. They knew exactly what we were talking about. They said it was called ‘Off the Grid’ and occurred every Friday night on the other side of Fort Mason near Safeway. I knew where the Safeway was, so I finally felt somewhat confident in where we were heading.

OffTheGridSFIf you’re ever in San Francisco on a Friday night you must experience ‘Off the Grid’. There’s at least 20 different food trucks to choose from along with music. They have a DJ until 7pm and then a band takes over. I had two BBQ sliders from The Boneyard and later from the Creme Brulee Cart I had The Golden Ticket (A Salted caramel creme brulee torched to perfection and topped with dark chocolate shortbread crumble and sea-salted caramel sauce.) It was super yummylicious!!!

We made it back to our room before dark and planned on staying in for the night, but after all the dancing we did in the room, I was hungry again. That’s when we decided to venture out and sample the nightlife in the city. We stumbled across a Karaoke club with a few brave entertaining souls, but no food, so we didn’t stay long. After finding a hole in the wall that served pizza by the slice, which was extremely tasty, we decided to ride the trolley. This was a first for both of us. We caught it on Hyde near Chestnut and rode it all the way down to Market St. The driver was kind and talkative. He offered to take our picture when he heard it was our first time riding the trolley. There were a few people in the closed section of the trolley but we were the only ones at the open end. The trolley conductor said we could stand and hang on the poles. Brigitte took him up on the offer, but I passed. I could enjoy the sights from my seat thank you very much!SF Trolley

The next morning at check out, we discovered we could keep our car in the garage until 4pm. Which I hear is a good deal. We only paid $40 for parking and had been there since we checked in the day before. Our first stop was for coffee and food at The Crepe House on Polk St. I had a large coffee to jump-start my brain and French toast with fruit. Brigitte had one of the scrumptious breakfast crepes. We shared because that’s what friends do.

The rest of our day was filled with a lot of walking, more bus riding, some beautiful sights, a few that were unexpected and more kind hearted city folk.

The Grace Cathedral was our first stop. We arrived during a funeral service, but were still allowed in. The inside, as well as the outside was exquisite. After taking in its beauty, we decided to sit and take it in for a few minutes. As we sat, we heard, and felt, the organs play and the reciting of The Lords Prayer. I could feel the Holy presence of God. This was an amazing way to start the day.

Lords Prayer

Rat in SF

On our way to a bus that would take us near Haight and Ashbury, we ran across a furry friend. Not a cute furry friend, but an ewe gross furry friend. A rat! It was on a street corner hovering over a sewer grate as if it were trying to figure out how to get down there. Unfortunately, it was to fat, so it couldn’t fit through. It didn’t seem to be fazed by the cars or people all around, but I still felt sorry for it. I hope it didn’t get flattened by a car.

While in the Haight and Ashbury area, we came across a young man sitting on the sidewalk drawing with chalk on cardboard. He was talkative and wanted to share with us his about his new love for drawing. He had recently taught himself. By the look of his doodles, he was quickly learning. He said he picked up one day and decided to go to California, from Denver. He had been in San Francisco and homeless for about a month. What would make someone just pick up and leave their home like that? No plan and no resources. I don’t know if he’s a Christian or not, but that would be hard to do with God leading the way. Like the Israelites being led through the desert for 40 years. Doing that without God seems insane to me. My heart goes out to him.

We’re now coming to the end of our adventure in the city and feeling exhausted, so we decided to make our way to the nearest bus stop to take us back to our car. As we’re walking up Fredrick Street, Brigitte says “Oh my goodness, he’s naked!” I wanted to look, but couldn’t at first. Because honestly, who wants to see a naked guy walking the streets of San Francisco? I certainly didn’t, but still felt the urge to look. Yes, there was indeed a naked guy walking up the other side of the street. Well, except for his socks. I’ve heard, since returning, that a person roaming naked on the streets of San Francisco can’t be arrested, only ticketed, if they have socks on. I’m not sure if this is true, but I find that a very interesting law. I guess this is a regular occurance in San Francisco.

Aside from being naked, you could tell he was out of it. I’m guessing he was on drugs, or something, since he stopped and got sick a few times. Thankfully, there were cars parked along the street, so we could no longer notice he had no clothes on. How does someone get himself or herself in such a situation? How could someone’s family or friends let them get to this point? I don’t understand it. My heart breaks as I think of him.  Will you join me in praying for him? I pray he would be surrounded by people who know and praise God. Surround him with people who will be the encouragement and strength he needs to point him to God Almighty.

God has changed my heart for the city. I have a new love for the people in the city. Every place we went and ever bus ride we experienced we were met with kind helpful people who are clearly proud of the place they live. Thank you San Francisco for an amazing, fun and heart felt experience. Until we meet again!

My prayer for us today ~ Thank you Lord for opening our eyes to see things the way you see it. I pray you help us continue to open our hearts to the people around us, Amen.

Up On The Mountain Top

mountainI recently had an opportunity to spend a weekend with a few friends up in Nevada City.  We found a cute 2 room cottage at the Nevada City Inn.  It was nice, clean and far from home, so it was all good!  Throughout the day we laughed and cried as we shared our stories.  Stories of our past and current frustrations; recent failures;  pain from being hurt; desires for our families; hopes of the future; dreams of what may be.  Each of these stories had a common thread….God.

Later in the evening we spent some time praising and worshiping God by dancing and singing to some of our favorite music.  I think Mandisa’s song Stronger was the theme for the night.

“The pain ain’t gonna last forever

And things can only get better

Believe me, this is gonna make you stronger”

I’m always looking ahead to the next trip, when I’ll get to escape from my daily routine.  Whether it’s with friends on a retreat, a family vacation or alone with my husband.  Then as the trip comes to a close I find myself wishing the experience wouldn’t end.   So much so that I put myself in a negative mood before returning home.  This was definitely the case this past weekend.

At BSF we’re studying the book of Matthew.  This week’s study was on Chapter 17.  When Peter, James and John witnessed Jesus transfigured up high on the mountain.  What an amazing thing to be a part of.  As we discussed at BSF today, I don’t think Peter wanted this ‘mountain top’ experience to end.  So he suggested putting up tents or shelters.  It could have been because he didn’t know what to do and felt the need to do something, but I think he didn’t want this moment with Jesus, Moses and Elijah to end.  But then God steps in and basically tells Peter to stop and listen.  He needed to pay attention to what was going on to help him be better prepared for what was to come.Potter clay

During the BSF lecture today I heard “Mountain top experiences are not meant to be long term, they are simply preparation for what is to come”. I felt like Peter up on that mountain.  Like God was telling me to stop, listen and pay attention when on the mountain top.

I always looked at the mountain top experiences (time away) as time to unwind, relax, have fun and refresh.  I never saw it as a time to learn something and I certainly never wanted them to end.  I can’t get “preparation for what is to come” out of my head.  It makes me excited for my next ‘mountain top’ experience!

Thankfully I’ll be attending the BSF Retreat in a few weeks.  I am definitely looking at this differently now.  This will be more than a time to escape the daily routine of life and connect with fellow BSF believers.  This will be a time to listen.  This will be a time God will use to prepare me for what is to come.  Oh, I am so excited!  Not for the retreat, well, yes, I am of course excited for the retreat.  I’m even more excited to come back to see what God is preparing me for.  To see how I will get to use what I learn.

I refuse to worry about what God might be preparing me for.  Whether it be a difficult trial or an amazing opportunity, I know God will equip, is equipping, me for all I need.

How do you come down from a ‘mountain top’ experience?

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, I thank you for the opportunities to break away from our daily routines. I pray we take time to be still and listen for You during these precious times given to us by You.

Terrified!

playdateWhen my kids were little their play dates included the parents and were planned by the parents.  It seemed to be what everyone did.  It was nice because the kids were kept busy and tired each other out while the adults had a relaxing conversation.  Then as the kids got older it changed to one parent dropping a kid off at another kid’s house.  The kids still kept each other busy, but the parent whose house they were at no longer had someone to sit and relax with.  The parent who dropped off had time away from their child.  To make things fair, you usually traded back and forth where the kids played.  This was also planned by the parents.

As the kids got even older it was suddenly “mom, can Laura come over for a sleepover?” or “mom, can I go to Laura’s house for a sleepover?” There were suddenly no parents communicating.  All communicating was between the kids.  I found myself being told when, where and who by my child.  At first it was with families I already knew, but then my children would meet new friends and I didn’t know their parents. My first reaction was to talk to a parent first.  Talking to a parent meant I had their contact number and was sure they were ok with the arrangement.  I didn’t want to drop my child off somewhere they weren’t expected.

I’ve been surprised over the years how many parents have brought their kids to our house without meeting or talking to us.  Has this become the new norm for the older kids, Junior High to High School?  The parents just drop the kids off where ever they ask to go without checking things out first?  I realize they are getting older and becoming more independent, but it seems too laid back for me.  However, I am guilty of not always checking in with the parents of the other child or children.   hanging out with friends

Lately my daughter always wants to hang out (mall, movies, park, etc.) with a friend at some point during the weekend.  This is completely understandable.  I didn’t want to stay home and hang out with my parents when I was a teenager either. Since she can’t drive yet I’m the chauffer to and from.   Sometimes working this around our schedule can be difficult.

Since I’m not always able to communicate with the parents of the other child, I communicate with my daughter while she is out with her friend.  We have a plan where/when we will meet and discuss what she will be doing while away.  I usually text her a few times while she is away also.  I’ve even asked her to send me a picture a few times.  Does that make me an over protective mother who doesn’t seem to trust her daughter?!

Last week my daughter wanted to meet her friend at the movie theater.  Not the one in town, the one a town over.  We didn’t have any other plans and it wasn’t too late so I agreed.  My daughter had been spending a lot of time with this friend and I did chat with the mom once at a school function.

While I was driving her to the movies I was told her friends brother, who is a year older, would be there too.  Her friend wasn’t allowed to go out without her big brother.  It was reassuring to hear her friends parents were protective of who her daughter was with.   We pulled up at the theater the same time as her friend.  Before I drove off I told her I would be out front when the movie got out.

I arrived back at the movie theater about 15 minutes before the movie was out.  I played games on my phone while I waited.  The next thing I knew, it was 15 minutes past the time she was expected to get out.  I thought maybe the movie started late or the previews ran late.  No big deal.  I was irritated because I wanted to go home and get in my jammies.  I continued to wait.  I noticed a lot of people exiting the theater, as if a movie had just let out, but still no sign of my daughter.  It’s now about 30 minutes past the time she should have come out.  I’m now starting to worry.  Then I remembered she always calls once she’s out of the theater.  What if her phone died?  She’s been having problems with it.  She couldn’t see me where I was, so I decided to pull up in the front in the drop off zone.  I thought for sure she would be standing there waiting for me.  Still no sign of my daughter.  I tried several times to call and text her, but no response. frightened

My heart started racing and I began to panic.  Terrifying things started racing through my mind.  What if someone kidnapped her?  What if it wasn’t her friend that pulled up when we did and I left her standing alone?  What if someone convinced her to walk off with them? What if they didn’t go to the movie and were in a car accident going to wherever they were going?  My head was spinning.

Should I go in the theater?  What would I say?  What would I do if the movie got out and she wasn’t there?  Should I check all the theaters?  How would I do that?  I finally thought to call my husband.  He used to be a Police Officer and will know what to do.  I told my husband what was going on and he said he would head my way.   I realized I had her friend’s cell number in my phone from the other day when my daughter’s phone stopped working.  I tried calling and texting, but didn’t receive a response.  A few times I started to get out of the car to go into the theater, but had an overwhelming feeling I needed to continue waiting.

At this point it had almost been an hour since I expected to pick up my daughter. It felt like a lifetime.  I decided to call my husband to see what he thought we should do and make sure he was still coming.  His plan was for us to check the theater first.  While I was talking to him I got a text.  It was my daughter!  She said the movie just got out.  What?!  How was that possible?  I checked and double checked the time the movie was to get out.  I quickly told my husband and said we would see him at home soon.

I couldn’t take my eyes off the front of the theater waiting for my daughter to walk out the doors.  She finally appeared!  I could see her through the glass doors in the lobby.  I watched her walk out and to the car.  When she got in the car one part of me wanted to grab her and hug her, while the other part wanted to start screaming at her.

When I asked her where she had been she said “in watching the movie”.  I told her that was impossible because the movie was supposed to get out at 9:30 and it was now 10:30.  I didn’t understand how a movie could run an hour behind.  She calmly looked at me and said “oh, her mom wouldn’t let her see the movie we planned to see because it was rated R. So we saw a different movie and it just got out.”  I no longer want to hug my daughter!

As I began feeling angry and frustrated with my daughter for her lack of communicating, I was convicted.  It was time to be thankful not angry.  My anger and frustration turned to praising and thanking God for my daughter.  In a shaky voice and tears rolling down my face I explained to my daughter why I was so terrified.  She said she was sorry and didn’t realize there was a difference in how long the two movies were.  We sat in silence for most of the ride home.

The older my children get the harder parenting seems to be.  It makes me wonder how God feels when I change the plans for my life without consulting Him.  Thankfully he is oh so patient, kind and loving.  He treats us with grace and mercy each and every day even though we don’t deserve it.

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, I thank you for the patience and love we receive from you every day.  I pray we treat those around us with the same patience and love, Amen.

1 Chronicles 16 34

Friends

friends fingersMost of us have different kinds of friends.  Those we’ve known our entire life and others we’ve just recently met.  Some friends we only knew as a child.  Others we’ve known for our adult life.  Some friends were only around for a particular season in our life.  Some friends know our deepest secrets and others only know about part of us.  Like how we are at work, church, school, or when around our family.

I think friends are a great blessing given to us by God.  Sometimes God places people in our life because we have something they need.  Other times it’s because we need something from them.  Sometimes this turns into long lasting relationships.  Some friends you see or talk with often.  Other friends you may think of often, but only communicate with them once or twice a year.  The great thing about friends is once they are your friend they will always have a special place in your heart.

A true friend shares their heart, speaks truth and acts in a loving manner.  A true friend also listens to your fears, failures and trails without judgment. 1_Corinthians_13

Being a friend can be hard!  It’s easy to love them when they’re being kind to you, but what about when they say or do something that hurts your feelings or the feelings of someone you love?  It usually makes me angry and I want to make them feel the hurt and disappointment they made me feel.  God says we are not to be easily angered or delight in evil.

It’s normal to have the feelings of anger and disappointment when we’re hurt.  It’s what we do with our feelings that matter.  So how do you change your negative feelings to a positive or neutral reaction?  When I find myself getting angry or upset I try my best to pause and call out to God.  I believe when I do that the Holy Spirit steps in and guides me through the situation.  The Holy Spirit enables me to be patient, loving, hopeful and persevere regardless of the circumstances.God give people you need sign

A few years ago I was confronted by a lady in front of my children’s school just as classes started.  She was very upset with the way I had handled a situation.  She felt I had stepped in on her territory and wasn’t happy about it.  She was talking loudly, waving her hands about and not saying very nice things.  My first reaction was to yell back and tell her how stupid I thought she was being.  Instead of acting on that I said a quick prayer in my head asking God to help me stay calm, and response in a loving manner only speaking truth.  By the end of the conversation, about 15 minutes later, we were both smiling, hugging and even made a lunch date for later that week.  I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful for being able to call upon the Holy Spirit to help us through those moments.

How has the Holy Spirit enabled you to be loving and kind in a difficult situation?

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, thank you for the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.  I pray we each take the opportunity to call upon the Holy Spirit when faced with difficult situations, Amen

How Will You Answer?

Sometimes I wish I was younger, like my early 20’s. Not because I wish to look younger, but to have that ‘I can do anything’ attitude. When I was younger I would get an idea and run with it. Even when everyone said I was crazy for doing it, which was usually the case. I wouldn’t let their negativity get me down. I didn’t worry about how I would accomplish the task at hand or even what others thought about it. I would simply take one step at a time and figure it out as I went along.

I use to hear a commercial about being a surrogate while driving to work. I was in my early 20’s at the time. I usually heard it a few times a week. I remember thinking how devastating it would be to want kids and not be able to. I thought how wonderful it was there was a way to help these couples. I thought, to bad I can’t help because the commercial said, you must have had at least one full term pregnancy with no complications in order to be considered as a surrogate. I didn’t have kids or a husband yet.

Not long after having my second daughter, I started hearing, or noticing, the surrogate commercial again. This time I was the perfect candidate. I had not one, but two normal pregnancies with no complications and I was still in the age range they desired. I suddenly felt the desire to help. When I told my mom about it she said it was an insane idea. Most people I spoke with about it said it was a crazy thing to do. They didn’t understand why I would want to put myself through another pregnancy. Regardless of what everyone said, I still looked into it and within a year I was pregnant with another couples baby. I told my girls I was the couples baking oven. When the baby was done growing I would give the baby to them.

I look back now and believe God gave me the desire to become a surrogate. I acted on this desire because I wasn’t afraid of what everyone thought. I wasn’t worried about all the details. I am now a part of an amazing couple and their family. I became part of their story. A story written by God.

I sometimes struggle with my desires now. I feel the desire God is planting in my heart, but I hesitate and feel anxious at times. Not because I’m not certain of what God is calling me to do, but because I can’t stop worrying about what others will think of me or what I am doing.

A dear friend recently reminded me, we are to simply do what God is calling us to do and let God deal with the rest. I’m so blessed to have so many amazing people in my life to keep me from completely freaking out at times.friendship pink flower pic

We recently sang this song at church, ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’. The line “keep the world behind me and the cross in front of me” reminded me, I want all I do to be pleasing to God, not the world, so there is no need to worry about what the world thinks. I know with all my heart, God will equip me and you as well, for all He calls us to do. What is God calling you to do and how will you answer His call?

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, I pray you fill our heart with the desire to do your will and that you equip us to fulfill this desire, Amen

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