Rebecca Duvall

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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.


Public Open Space SFHave I every told you my favorite season is summer? Well, if I haven’t, it is. I love, love, love the hot, hot, hot days. The hotter the day, the bigger my smile and happier I feel. The warm air of summer makes me want to get out and move around to explore the world.

A few days ago, with my dad as our tour guide, my girls and I went to San Francisco to explore. I don’t visit the city often. The hustle and bustle of the city usually stresses me out. This time, with my dad leading the way, I was determined to enjoy the wonderful sites the city had in store for us.

Our day started off with a ferry ride. I have to say, it’s so much nicer than driving. If you haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying a ferry ride, I strongly recommend you find time to. That is unless you get motion sickness. Then I think diving is the best bet for you.

Once we arrived at the Ferry Building we headed out for our first destination, the rooftop of the Crocker Galleria. Did you know there are privately owned buildings and spaces that have public access? I never knew. If you’re ever walking around San Francisco, keep a lookout for a small sticker in the front window that says Public Open Space. Or you can Google it online before you head out.   I found several different maps, lists and articles written about the differnt hidden public spots to check out while visiting the city.

Before heading up to the rooftop to take in the beautiful views, we stopped to get a bite at Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches. They’re known for their speedy service, and I have to say, they were pretty fast at getting us our order. The food was delicious too.

The views from the rooftop were breathtaking. It was before the usual lunch rush so the space was quiet. We enjoyed our lunch on a partially shaded bench surrounded by shrubbery. It was hard to believe we were sitting on a rooftop in the middle of the city. It felt like we were sitting in a park in the middle of no where. Well, except for the noise. The sounds of the city echoed up the sides of the buildings.San Francisco Rooftop

With full tummies we ventured on our way to the next stop, the rooftop of the Westfield San Francisco Centre Mall. Again, the views were beautiful and the weather was a perfect 79 degrees for the city. So jackets were not needed. However, we did bring them since it’s usually cold and foggy. This rooftop wasn’t as nice as the first, but the views made up for it.

After a quick stroll through the mall we were back outside soaking up the warmth of the city and looking toward our next adventure, the rooftop of an office building at One Kearney Place. But before we could head that way, we needed a sweet treat. There were so many places to choose from. How in the world were we to decide. With a peak at the map and seeing what we were so close to, the choice was obvious……Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop. We sat along the window seats so we could inhale our sweet treat, chat and people watch. It was a nice rest for our feet too! Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop SF

Our stomachs are full and we’re loaded with sugar. We’re now ready to take on the rest of our day. The rooftop at One Kearney Place was small, but nice. It’s a building surrounded by many other tall buildings so it was cool to see the details of the building tops. Something you would never notice while walking around at ground level in the city.

We’re now done exploring rooftops and heading to China Town. This is my first visit there. I wish I wasn’t still full from the ice cream. I would love to have tried some of the food. It all smelled so delicious. We wandered into a few of the shops while walking through. I saw a few interesting items and lovely jewelry. Although I didn’t buy anything, because this was a trip for exploring, not shopping.

We now had one last area to explore before heading back to the ferry. Telegraph Hill. This is another place I had never been in San Francisco. The way my dad described it, I thought there were many more stairs to climb than there actually were. It was nothing compared to the walk Ashley and I go on back home, which I mention in an earlier post, ‘I Prayed For That?’. But I must confess, this was exhausting after walking all over the city. The homes on Telegraph Hill were small, but the scenery and views were amazing. I couldn’t imagine walking up and down those stairs everyday, sometimes several times a day. If I lived there, I would make it a point to only leave and return once everyday.rooftop view of San Francisco

Oh, I must tell you about the amazing family we had a brief encounter with. At the second highest point of Telegraph Hill we stopped to catch our breath. We were also deciding whether or not we would continue to the top or head down. During this time, my daughter Amy took out her iPod Touch to see if she had WIFI. Typical teenager. Always needs to be connected. As soon as I realized the staircase in front of us was the last one, I decided we had to finish the walk up to the top. Just as we were arriving to the top of the staircase a gentleman yelled out “Is this yours? Did you leave this behind?”. We turned back to look at the man and see what he was yelling about and saw that he was holding Amy’s iPod Touch. When we thanked him he said to thank his family, because they were the ones who noticed it sitting on the ledge where she had left it. I was filled with an amazing feeling. A feeling of love and happiness. I don’t know if that family were tourists or they lived there, but to know that whoever they were, they cared about the people around them and chose to do what was right. It brought a smile to my face and filled me with gratitude.

My prayer for us today ~ Father God, I thank you for the kindness and love you show us each and every day. I pray we share this love and kindness and demonstrate it with those around us.

San Francisco Public Open Spaces


reflectionThe last few days I’ve been looking back over the year.  At first I thought I hadn’t done anything worth remembering.  Since the previous year I gave my husband a kidney, I thought it would be kind of hard to follow that.  I had to pull out the calendar to help me remember the past year.  This has truly been a year filled with many blessings.

This is my 2013 in a nutshell:

  • January ~ I started writing a book & Robert started the Chaplain academy
  • February ~ I attended a Women’s Retreat at Bayside Church in Granite Bay
  • March ~ I was the speaker for our local MOMSnext group
  • April ~ I attended the Revolve Tour with my daughters
  • May ~ I became a BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) Group Leader
  • June ~ Our oldest daughter graduated High School and we took a family trip to Disneyland
  • July ~ I helped teach the songs & dances for VBS (Vacation Bible Study) & went to Reno with Robert, alone
  • August ~ We had our annual family trip to Tahoe & I started blogging
  • September ~ Robert graduated from the Chaplain academy and my daughter & I walked in the Avon Walk, San Francisco
  • October ~ A friend and I volunteered at the Women of Faith, Sacramento
  • November ~ Robert and I had another trip, alone, to San Diego
  • December ~ it’s been a wonderful relaxing time with family & friends2 timothy 1 7 blue

Many of the things listed above I would never have guessed I would have done this year, or any year.  I was always afraid to try new things.  I was afraid I wouldn’t do it well, or I would some how or another make someone upset for not doing it the way they thought it should be done.  My fear was holding me prisoner.  My fear was keeping me from doing the things I wanted to do.

Through prayer, I turned all my fears, and desires, to God.  I continue to do this regularly too.  I make sure God knows my desires and my fears behind them.  This way, when an opportunity or situation comes my way, I believe it’s from God.  I have faith God will be there with greater than fear

The past few summers I thought the person jumping up and down to the VBS music, teaching the kids the dance moves was the luckiest person there.  It looked so fun and I wished I could do it.  So when I had the opportunity to help with it last summer I couldn’t say no.  I have to tell you, I cannot sing and I do not pick up on dance moves quickly, but I sure did have fun! I’m looking forward to doing it again next year too!

Every week the Pastor of our church recites John 15:5 ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’

I love hearing this each week.  It reminds me God doesn’t expect, or want, me to do anything without Him.  He wants to be a part of every detail of our life & everything, anything, is possible with God.vine branches

So I encourage you.  No…..I double dog dare you!  Spend some time with God, telling Him your desires and fears.  Maybe even write them down.  Then pay attention, because next year is going to be an amazing year with God by your side!

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, I thank you for the Holy Spirit which dwells within us. I pray you reveal to each of us your will for the coming year.  I pray we each take more quiet time to hear your will and act quickly when we do, Amen

Think Pink!

Avon Walk Event EveThis past weekend I was encouraged, Inspired & uplifted.  My oldest daughter and I participated as walkers in the Avon walk for Breast Cancer in San Francisco, CA.  This was my 3rd time participating as a walker and my daughters 1st time.  The energy and love felt from everyone there was incredible. Meeting different people along the route and hearing how Breast Cancer had effected them was a special part of the trip. I truly wish I could have met everyone there and heard each and every one of their stories.  I recognized many people who have participated as route support every year for the past 5, or more, years.

Avon Walk SupportThis year, 2013, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer-San Francisco raised over $4.2 million. I think that is incredible! Click here to see how some of the funds were distributed. Amazing things can happen when a group of people come together with a common goal.  I’m excited for the day a cure is found for Breast Cancer that isn’t so hard on the body.  We walked in honor of my mom, Sharon Doe, who passed in 2003.  She had a short 9 month fight with Breast Cancer before it took her life at a young age of 56.

I remember my mom announcing she found a lump in her breast and was going in to see the doctor.  The doctor had a biopsy done, which came up benign. The Oncologist sent her in for a second biopsy because the tumor was pretty big.  His guess was the tumor had been there for a year or two.  The scary thing was she had regular mammograms, every 6 months, due to swelling in her lymph nodes a few years prior.  The second biopsy came back positive for cancer.  She was then sent in for several tests right away to find out if the cancer had spread.  Unfortunately, it had.  My mom had several tumors throughout her body.  Chemo and radiation were started immediately.  My mom was a strong and extremely tough woman; in fact, she’s the strongest woman I’ve ever known.  The hardest part for me, except for losing her to this awful disease, was the days she begged me not to take her to her radiation treatments because she couldn’t take it anymore.

Avon Walk Pink TentsOctober is Breast Cancer awareness month.  If you have ever been affected in any way by Breast Cancer, I challenge you to show your support.  It’s as easy as wearing pink throughout October. I think it shows those affected by Breast Cancer you care about how it’s turned their world upside down.  Did you know you can help fund a mammogram for a woman in need simply by going to Click the pink button on the top middle of the page that says ‘Click here it’s free’.    If you can, please make a donation to help in the fight against Breast Cancer.  Here are a couple organizations dedicated to finding a cure.  They are also packed with useful information about the disease.

This year the walk was hard.  Neither my daughter or I had much time to train.  I know it sounds crazy, the Avon Walk Men Tooneed to train to walk.  Or at least I thought it was crazy.  We walked 13 miles both days.  Well, we were supposed to.  The walk was planned as 26 or 13 miles the 1st day and 13 miles the 2nd day.  The 1st day route was only 24 miles, not 26, so they decided to add the additional 2 miles to the end of the 2nd day.  My daughter and I had no idea until we came to the 13th mile on the 2nd day and noticed it wasn’t the end.  Thankfully, we both made it to the end, 2 miles later.  We had blisters on our feet, achy legs and were exhausted.  I would do it over and over again, because it’s nothing compared to what those fighting Breast Cancer go through.

My prayer for us today ~ Lord, I pray you reveal to each of us how You desire us to help in the fight against diseases which are taking our family & friends, Amen

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