Category Archives: Eastvale Lifestyle

Lifestyle tips, health and fitness, movie reviews

Dead Battery

By Mark Hopper

Many years ago we owned a two-door Dodge Dart with a slant-six engine. I think it was a pretty reliable car but not very practical with two young children in the back seat. We took several family vacations in that two-door car including a trip from Arizona to Colorado in 1977. Members of the Hopper family were gathering in Denver for my Grandmother Hopper’s 75th birthday. We decided to stop at some campgrounds along the way to enjoy the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and to reduce spending money on hotels.

I attached a roof rack on the top of the car to help transport the tent, ice chest, sleeping bags and other camping supplies. The trunk was filled with luggage and baby supplies for our new born daughter Trisha. We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies.

When we got everything and everyone loaded into the car we asked a neighbor to take our picture before we departed. However when I turned the key we discovered we had a dead battery. The neighbor got his car and battery cables to try to jumpstart our car. No Luck. The battery was dead and needed to be replaced.

After we got the kids out of the car I removed the old battery and drove to JCPenney’s to buy a new one. A regular battery in those days was about $35. But they also offered a more expensive battery with a life-time warranty for about double the price. In a weak moment I selected the more expensive option. I bought the lifetime battery. It was one of the best investments I ever made. In the years ahead I think JC Penney’s replaced that battery at least three or four times! I certainly got my money’s worth. Eventually Penny’s stopped selling them.

I don’t think many companies offer a lifetime warranty on their products anymore. But I actually do when it comes to weddings. I tell couples in premarital counseling they can come back to me for help as long as I am still alive on this earth. I promise to be available to meet with them when they have problems in their marriage. I am convinced God can heal and restore marriages if couples are willing to follow His instructions and willing to make changes in their own life. If you are going through difficulties in your life or your marriage, let me encourage you to get help now. Begin with your own life. Read my story about “The Man in the Mirror” in my book Let Me Encourage You. You will be glad you did and your spouse will too.

Read 365 more stories and articles (one for every day of the year) in the book Let me Encourage You by Mark Hopper. You can purchase two copies for only $30 plus postage ($5). Buy one for yourself and one to give a friend. Order your copies at mark@efreedb.org.

Dayspring

By Pastor Dennis Morales

“…the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78-79

Zechariah was given word that his wife would have a son. His name would be John. John the Baptist would be the one paving the way for the Messiah. Zechariah doubted and was made mute. When John was born, Zechariahs tongue was loosed, and he broke out in song. Prior to this, it was a dark time for Zechariah. We find that sometimes the darkness and difficulty is orchestrated by the Lord. We have valleys and mountaintops all throughout our lives. Most of the time we spend is in the valleys. The place that even Psalm 23 calls “the valley of the shadow of death.” Martin Luther King said that “it is only in darkness that you see the stars.”

I recently experienced one of the most difficult times in my life and ministry. Someone very close to me tragically took his own life. The guilt, darkness, shame, and horror just enveloped me like never before. It was very hard not to feel responsible in some way. I remember reading this verse during this time of darkness. I knew at that moment that the Lord was breaking through. It’s a process, but I can sense the Lord’s presence even in the darkness. The Lord gives His light in the darkness, and it’s also in the darkness that He gives his amazing peace.

If you are struggling, please reach out to somebody. Be candid and real. If you are on the receiving end of a call for help. Do everything you can to stand in the gap and seek help. I am reminded that no matter how thick the darkness, it can’t put out even the tiniest of lights. Scripture says that Jesus is the light of the world. He is the Dayspring, which means He is the first appearance of light or sunrise. God reveals His light through Jesus, who is the Light of heaven who came into the world (John 8:12). A world which is riddled with darkness, pain, sickness, depression, and hate. He experienced the darkness of death when he gave his life (Hebrews 4:15). He died and was buried. But the grave could not hold him. He rose! He conquered the darkness of sin, which is at the core of so much pain in the world. He did it for YOU. Even though we may be in darkness, we could experience His light and His peace. Trust in Him today. He is the Dayspring.

Calvary Chapel Eastvale meets Sundays 8:30 & 10:30 am at Eastvale Elementary. Visit their website at http://www.calvaryeastvale.org. Download their app to be up to date on all events. Livestream, YouTube live, and Facebook live is available.

Happy New Year

By Melody Kramer

Happy New Year. Another year has come and gone. Be happy, be blessed, and be thankful. I was sitting here thinking and mentally beating myself up for the goals I had set for myself that I didn’t achieve for 2022. Also, for the projects that I said I was going to do and didn’t get done, and for all the time I wasted worrying.  But this verse came across my mind. 

 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

I am removing all my anxiety from what wasn’t done or completed to what was done and accomplished. It doesn’t matter if it was on my list of resolutions. Life sometimes seems to take a turn, and what we plan to do is not always what direction God wants us to go in. 

The backyard project may still need to be done. But Spending moments with my kids and seeing them laugh and enjoy life is so much more than a New Years’ resolution that I broke. This year I vowed for 2023 to laugh and smile more,  love deeper, pray a lot harder and walk a little slower and enjoy every step of the way without worrying about what got done or didn’t get done.

Happy New Year to you, and may you take time to smell the flowers, watch a bird fly, count the stars, smile at a stranger, and hug your kids any chance you get, Be blessed, my friends. Have a wonderful New Year.

Melody Kraemer is the Editor and Publisher of AutismMomAdventures.com. Follow her on Instagram @lifewithmelody_k. Tik Tok @lifewithmelodyk and Facebook.com/autismmomadventur es. For more information or general encouragement, feel free to email her at: autismmomofboys@gmail.com

2023 The Magic Year

By Nancy Stoops

Happy New Year to all of you wonderful beings. Yes it’s a new beginning for us all. It’s a chance to start fresh and finally become who you are meant to be. The New Year brings unlimited possibilities and new energy that helps us believe, the sky is the limit. The New Year gives us hope and many new chances. I say take these chances and make this year, the best one ever!

Start this process by setting some small very obtainable daily goals. Once you’re in the groove and have met the daily goals, now it’s time to set a realistic goal for the year. You may or may not ever meet the year end goal but it’s all about the steps or the process that we take in our attempt that cause us to change. That’s what I want you all to focus this year. So what if you never get there all the way, you’re certainly moving in the right direction. Be proud of what you are able to do in 2022 and don’t beat yourself up for what you couldn’t do.

I hope you will be good to yourselves this year and finally work toward who you are meant to be. I want you to remember it’s all here for you and all you have to do is believe in yourself and go and get what you deserve. So I dedicate this to all of you in hopes that this will be a magical year. I wish for all of you that you will get out there and find all the greatness that exists in you and our very wonderful world. It all starts by believing in you and I believe in all of you and want you to be the very best you can be. Make 2023 a magical year, the best year of your life!!!!!

This article was written by Nancy Stoops M.A., M.F.T. Nancy is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Nancy is now accepting new clients. She also works as a motivational speaker. Nancy runs free family support groups, a group on loss for seniors, and groups for teens and can handle many court mandated needs. For more information about any of these services contact Nancy at (909) 229-0727. You may e-mail Nancy at nancyjstoops@verizon.net. You may purchase Nancy’s books Live Heal and Grow and Midnight the Therapy Dog at Amazon.com

The Loss of Life

By Michael Armijo

   I was very close to my family. I loved them with all my heart. I no longer see any of them. One day I woke up and felt that they had abandoned me. And then I drove them further away by sharing my experiences with the world. I am hurt by the loss of their lives.

   The day I opened up to my father I began a real relationship with the one I feared the most. Although I never had his complete love, I somehow gained his respect by my success and aggressiveness. After we began our journey of becoming emotionally close, one dark night I found him lifeless on the hallway floor. I am hurt by the loss of his life.

   When I met him five years ago, he spoke of fairness and honesty in life. Integrity was high on his list, but it wasn’t necessary. His fatherly personality made me confide and respect him. Eventually he became my boss, both personally and professionally. We shared secrets and feelings. We helped one another and confided in each other. His heart was bigger than anyone I’ve ever met. And then one day he developed cancer. I was forced to watch him die, and I felt helpless. I am hurt by the loss of his life.

   He’s a new friend, and I really like him. He’s a cross between an older brother and a young father. He loves to laugh and shares the same dysfunctions I do. We get along and we really care for each other. He’s now someone who I respect, and I love him very much. I consistently remind him to get plenty of rest, live healthy, and to go to the doctor when he feels sick. But I am very afraid. I worry. I am in fear. I am afraid of the loss of his life.

   They call it condition stimulus. A repetitive action that turns into a repetitive response. I love, and then I hurt. Bring out the meat sauce because I’ve now turned into the Pavlovian dog that I read about in college.

   I have a problem understanding life today; I have a problem loving people who may suddenly leave this earth without warning. I know, any one of us could die at any moment. We can get into a car accident, a plane could fall from the sky, or our heart could just quit without any warning. We cannot control it. This is just the way it is.

   Through these experiences I’ve learned not to wait until tomorrow, but I’ve also learned to be afraid to feel love today. I’m tired of the losses. I’m tired of the pain. The siblings who are hurt and hate. Others who are hurt, attack. The blame. The absurd accusations. I don’t want to go through those things anymore. Lately, I haven’t participated in my community. My heart had felt numb. Personal experiences have pushed painful scenarios within my spirit. I felt the struggle between what is, and what could be.

   Today is a good day. I feel content. I am happy. I know that whatever happens, I will look towards the positive. Whatever darkness that creeps into my life, somewhere, somehow, I will see a light. Whomever I love today, I will love completely, … today. I will not wait to hug. I will not wait to express how I feel. I will not feel pain and anguish without confronting those feelings with those who try to push their hate into my life. I will do this, each and every day, because I choose to no longer feel the sadness. This is the gift I’ve received from those who have passed. I choose to feel the many joys hidden deep inside the experiences of the loss of life.

The Power Of A Child

By Michael Armijo

We go through life and we grow, we build, we conquer, we reach our successful arenas; our niche in life. We overcome things we never dreamt we could possibly overcome. We accomplish the impossible. Then we reflect and feel this power about ourselves, the power of controlling our lives and accomplishing what we need to. We feel strong and purposeful; in control of our own destiny.

And then one day, by an act from God, a 60 pound, 4 foot 1 inch person rips away every sense of power that we’ve worked all our lives to obtain.

I’ve felt helpless at times in my life, but have always felt that I could overcome anything life gives me. But strength, intelligence, and endurance cannot compete with certain elements that come into our lives, seemingly as an act of God.  Only God could show us how love can make us feel powerful…or powerless. 

When her tiny voice cried out I could hear the weakness in the tone. She looked frail, lethargic, and felt much warmer than she should have.  I could sense the virus creeping into her weak little body; she lay exhausted and motionless as her fever climbed to 102 degrees.  My child was sick.

Motivated by strength I rise to the occasion and I’m determined to stay by her side and make her well – for as long as it takes (but deep inside I feel afraid and helpless).  Intelligence kicks in and I start the bath water running and carry her to the cool water.

Feeling even more helpless as her fever hits 104 AFTER the bath, I call for help.  The fear escalates as the paramedics take my child away and I follow them to the hospital.  As doctors and nurses attend to her my eyes fill with tears.  I spend a sleepless night at her bedside. 

I sit slumped over in a chair next to her bed, head in hands, exhausted.  My mind starts wandering, and I begin to wonder, is it worth it?  Is the responsibility of this little person too much?  Does the giving, sharing and loving balance out with the worry and fear?

 And then, I feel this soft little touch on my hand as tiny fingers try to interlace with my own.  I hear this little voice whisper, “I love you, Daddy.”  I feel the tears run down my cheeks and I’m overwhelmed with relief.  I look up at my girl and see a hint of a smile, reassuring me that she is better.  That little ray of sunshine feeds my soul, and I’m feeling better, too 

As she feels stronger, I feel stronger.  I embrace my child and feel some of my power being restored and I begin to understand.  The moment she was born I relinquished all of my power to her.  She is the source that can bring me to the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows.

And so it is with children.  They motivate us, give us strength, and show us the power of love.  They are worth every worry, every tear, every laugh, and every moment of our time.  The power of a child is the power of love. 

Out of Gas

By Mark Hopper

One of the biggest adjustments for our children when we moved to California in 1988 was adapting to new schools. Our son started high school, our oldest daughter started middle school and the two youngest continued in elementary school.

My wife and I were committed to getting connected to the teachers and staff at each school. One of my first memories was attending Back to School Night at Diamond Bar High in the fall of 1988. I quickly learned that parking was at a premium. I finally found a parking spot down the hill on Brea Canyon Road a few blocks from the school.

This was my first experience going to an event at the high school. I was amazed at how many parents attended. It was a bit intimidating trying to find my son’s classrooms on this huge campus. But I was glad I was there to learn more about the school and the faculty.

At the end of the evening I walked down the hill and found my car. However when I tried to start my car I discovered I was out of gas. How did that happen? I’m sure it was my wife’s fault.

We did not have cell phones in 1988. I knew there was a pay phone by the front of the school. But my wife had gone to the open house at the Middle school and she was not home. I had no way to reach her.

I finally decided to try to coast down the hill on Brea Canyon Road and  see if I could make it all the way to the gas station at Diamond Bar Blvd which was probably a half-mile away. Most of the parents were gone and there were not many cars on the road. So I turned my headlights on and put the car in neutral and used my brakes to slow my speed.

I knew I had to cross two intersections to get all the way to the gas station. I worried that if I came to a complete stop I would not have enough momentum to get going again. Things went smoothly as I slowly coasted down Brea Canyon Road. Even when the road began to level out my car kept moving. Then I needed to slow down enough to turn into the gas station but not slow down too much and not make it all the way to the gas pump. Remarkably it worked. I coasted right up to the gas pump, filled the tank and got home safely. Amazing!

Let me encourage you to get involved in your children’s schools. Go to Back to School Night and other school events. And make sure you fill your gas tank before you go. You will be glad you did and I will too!

Read 365 more stories and articles (one for every day of the year) in the book Let me Encourage You by Mark Hopper. You can purchase two copies for only $30 plus postage ($5). Buy one for yourself and one to give a friend. Order your copies at mark@efreedb.org.

A Gift from the Heart is Priceless

Licensed Marriage Family Therapist
Nancy Stoops M.A., M.F.T Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

By Nancy Stoops

Times are tough for so many right now. I know the media makes us feel like we show our love by spending lots of money. It shows people giving diamonds and luxury cars and the message is that if you really love somebody you’ll give them this type of gift. The truth is that most people don’t have that kind of money to spend on themselves much less somebody else.

Many people tell me they feel bad because they wish they had more money to spend this holiday season. Maybe I’m wrong but the true meaning of the holiday is to spread love and kindness and those things are free. There are many ways to show love and kindness. This time of year is about reminding all the special people in our lives how very much we appreciate them. I have many people every year besides my family and friends that I get a tiny gift for. I don’t spend too much but they sure do appreciate my gesture.

I always love spending time with my family and friends but this time of year is special because we all have time off and we have more time to be together. We love sharing meals together, singing songs, baking cookies, laughing, creating memories, taking pictures and getting all of the generations together. For us the holidays are about having fun and just having more time to express our love for each other. We make sure to always make time for lots of hugs and kisses as well. Over the years I have made many gifts for friends and family. We are all very sentimental so a gift from the heart is priceless in my family and doesn’t have to cost you a cent. Just enjoy the holiday season!!!!

This article was written by Nancy Stoops M.A., M.F.T. Nancy is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Nancy is now accepting new clients. She also works as a motivational speaker. Nancy runs free family support groups, a group on loss for seniors, and groups for teens and can handle many court mandated needs. For more information about any of these services feel free to contact her at (909) 229-0727. You may e-mail Nancy at nancyjstoops@verizon.net. You may purchase Nancy’s book’s Live Heal and Grow and Midnight the Therapy Dog at Amazon.com.

December

By Melody Kraemer

How can it be December already? So many things I wanted to accomplish this year, and yet the year is almost over. The days may seem long, but the year goes by fast. 

I feel so overwhelmed and anxious at times. However, some of it is beyond my control. I need to relax more and say, “Jesus, take the wheel, please.” 

It’s December, the busiest month of the year, but it shouldn’t be. Many of us get caught up with the hustle and bustle of the season. The twinkling lights, the Christmas tree,  Elf on Shelf, Christmas parties, the decorations, the Christmas goodies, and the holiday events are all nice but let’s stop for a moment and  remember, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”

I have burned myself out trying for that perfect Christmas, and each year all the kids remember is being together or that box they played with for hours on Christmas morning. Sure I am anxious and overwhelmed because time goes by way too fast. Although when it comes to Christmas, it doesn’t matter if only the front half of my tree is decorated, or if we don’t have lights in the yard. I am blessed to be surrounded by my family, knowing that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” 

Luke 11-14 KJV

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Melody Kraemer is the Editor and Publisher of AutismMomAdventures.com. Follow her on Instagram @lifewithmelody_k. Tik Tok @lifewithmelodyk and Facebook.com/autismmomadventur es. For more information or general encouragement, feel free to email her at: autismmomofboys@gmail.com

I Will Be With You

By Pastor Dennis Morales

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.

The Devil wants you to concentrate on loneliness, your circumstances, your debt, your failures, and your fears. The Devil loves to also steer our minds toward the things that we can’t control. There will be times of difficulty. There will be times when it seems like things are out of control. A little boy asked his dad how big God was. His dad asked him to look at the plane in the air. His dad asked, “How big is that plane?” His son said, “It is tiny.” When the plane landed on the runway and made its way to the gate, he asked the same question. “How big is the plane now?” His son said, “Its ginormous!” It all depends on perspective. If your trials are magnified over God, He may seem far away. If God is magnified, your trials seem insignificant (John 3:30).

As the true Christmas story goes, when Mary found out she was with the Savior Child, she could have tried to hide out of fear of the law, which declared that she could have been stoned to death. Instead, she proclaims in praise “My soul MAGNIFIES the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” (Luke 1:46). Her faith and prayer paved the way to being God’s chosen vessel giving birth to the Messiah. Amid the “waters” of affliction, the “rivers” (currents) of difficulty and the “fire” of trial, God says He will be with you. Thank God – He is with us in our most troubling times. We live in a world where people have free will and can cause us pain. We live in a world where things happen, and we don’t know why. But God is constantly working all things out for His will. He has compassion for us. He loves us. We are His good work and He will be with you.

Calvary Chapel Eastvale meets Sundays 8:30 & 10:30 am at Eastvale Elementary. Visit their website at http://www.calvaryeastvale.org. Download their app to be up to date on all events. Livestream, YouTube live, and Facebook live is available.

Don’t Cry When I’m Gone

By Michael Armijo (2001)

I’ve left this earth and you’re still here crying. Well, don’t cry now that I’m gone. You see, I’m free.  Free of the responsibilities that came with life.  I can’t hear anymore; I can’t see what you see.   I’m a pure and flowing spirit that will roam and feel the energy of life. When I shed my body I shed the tears, the pain and the torment that came with it.  I waited all my life to feel what I’m feeling now.  I waited what felt like an eternity.  I lived a good life on earth, so now I will lead a good life in my next step.  Just as I was taken from the womb of my mother and lived that life completely, I am now taken from this life to live yet another.

I am happy, as each life gets easier, stronger, better. I no longer know pain, so when you are in it, I cannot see you.  I only know love, so when you follow it, I will watch you shine.  Just as I do not remember my life in my mother’s womb, I do not remember the life I had on earth.  All I know is that I am truly happy now.   My world now is the world that I’ve built in my heart while on Earth.   My world is the one I had always hoped for.  It is beautiful.   It is wonderful.   It is mine.  But I must tell you, enjoy your life as I am now enjoying mine.  It’ll go quicker than you can ever imagine, it travels faster than you’ll ever believe.  One day you will look up and your life will be over.  Enjoy today completely and contently as tomorrow may never come.   Tomorrow never came for me.

So please don’t cry when I’m gone, be happy for me as I was always happy for you.  And please remember to live life with compassion and character, hope and pride, and love and peace, because the love you’ve embedded in your heart today is the love you’ll hold onto forever.

In Loving Memory of Michael Anthony Armijo 1/20/1964- 10/22/2020

Prayer

By Melody Kraemer

Every morning I wake up and thank the Lord for another day and always ask to protect my family as we go off for the day in our separate directions.

On one day last week, I was praying and said Amen. However, I bowed my head again, asked for protection for my family, and said Amen. For some reason, I did this four times this morning. Something in my heart kept telling me to keep praying.

Little did I know what would transpire on this day. But, according to the timeline of this incident, twenty-five minutes after my prayers, I learned that they had lost my boy at school.

The story of events from that morning: The kids all lined up at the gate and were all there, so they proceeded to walk to class. All but one. My son. He wandered off. I am still unsure why the teachers were front-leading the “autism” class instead of behind them. Oh, that’s right; they did mention that the aide, that is usually in the back called off sick that day.

When the teacher told me what happened, it made it sound as if he was missing for a few minutes, but come to find out, he was missing around 10-plus minutes or so before they figured he was gone.

Once they realized he was missing, they ran out and found my boy in another person’s car. He had buckled himself in and wanted to go home. I am thankful for this parent. She was kind to my son. She had to get the principal, and the principal had to coax him out of this stranger’s car as he was asking for mommy.

They told me about it after school. All the what if’s crossed my mind. My heart broke, but I didn’t cause a scene, yell or scream. I drove off and broke down in tears.

At that moment, I knew why I had prayed so hard that morning for God to keep us safe.

Psalm 121:7-8 NIV

7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more.

Melody Kraemer is the Editor and Publisher of AutismMomAdventures.com. Follow her on Instagram @lifewithmelody_k. Tik Tok @lifewithmelodyk and Facebook.com/autismmomadventures. For more information or general encouragement, feel free to email her at: autismmomofboys@gmail.com

Directing Traffic

By Mark Hopper

My wife taught sixth grade at Chaparral Middle School in Diamond Bar California. She loved her students and they loved her too. She made learning fun and helped students succeed.

One of the worst things about teaching at Chaparral was the volume of traffic at the beginning and end of each school day. Like most teachers Jeanne got to school early to avoid the crush of cars.

When I was driving to my office one day I noticed the traffic light near Jeanne’s school was out. There were no flashing red lights either. Most people were stopping but some were not. Clearly this was a dangerous situation. There was a long line of southbound cars trying to turn on to the street leading to the school. There were also a long line of cars on the residential street trying to get away from the school after they had dropped off their students.

But the cars going northbound lane of Diamond Bar Blvd were not stopping. They drove right through the intersection without slowing or stopping. It seemed like there would be an accident at any moment.

I pulled over on the side street and got out of my car. I carefully walked out into to the middle of the intersection and motioned for all of the approaching cars to stop. Then I began to direct traffic on all four sides of the intersection. I would allow 10-15 cars to go one way and did the same with the traffic going the opposite way. I also alternated the cars making left turns. Gradually traffic improved and accidents were avoided.

Eventually a motorcycle officer arrived on the scene. I asked him if he wanted to take over but he told me I was doing a pretty good job. One of my wife’s students ran into her classroom to report that her husband was out in the middle of Diamond Bar Blvd directing traffic. She didn’t believe him at first but several other students confirmed his story.

Finally the police officer did take over and I went on to work. It was a crazy situation but thankfully no one was hurt. There is a passage in the Bible in Luke chapter 15 about a Good Samaritan who stopped to help a stranger who had been robbed and injured. Let me encourage you to follow his example and be willing to stop and help when you face an unexpected situation. You may save a life or prevent serious injury to a stranger. You will be glad you did and they will too. 

Read 365 more stories and articles (one for every day of the year) in the book Let me Encourage You by Mark Hopper. You can purchase two copies for only $30 plus postage ($5). Buy one for yourself and one to give a friend. Order your copies at mark@efreedb.org.

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

By En yu Chang

“It takes ten years of practice for one minute on the stage” a piece of melodic music, a beautiful dance, a set of accurate expressions, plus the audience’s applause, this is dance. Since I was a kid, I’ve loved dancing, especially aerial yoga, and K-pop dance.

After successfully setting up a dance workshop for small children at our church, I soon realized that I enjoyed teaching children to dance as much as I enjoyed dancing. Especially during the pandemic, when most children became languid and inactive in isolation of varying degrees, I relished the reward of watching children break out of their shells and have fun. Introvert children and those who were the only child in their families took more patient coaxing and empathic listening. Still, when they got into the music and paid attention to unison and formation, my sense of accomplishment and joy was all the sweeter. We turn no one away.

As the President of Dancing With The Kids Club, I’m inviting the church, kindergarten, and elementary school educators to kindly open the door and allow us to come to sign up for dance sessions. We can work out the arrangements. The sessions will culminate in a performance show funded entirely by our club’s fundraising drives at no cost to your school.

The following is my contact information: Remind: @erhsdwtk; Instagram: erhs_dwtk; Website: https://erhsdwtk.web.app/; and Email: erhsdancingwiththekids@gmail.com

I might not be the best dancer this side of Twice, but I’m a very good dance teacher.

Three years of working with children and learning choreography have served me well. Our children are urged in my workshop to dance like nobody’s watching, but they will always be comfortable knowing that whenever they dance off or even goof off, I’m there watching and admiring.

Focusing On What’s Right in Your Life

By Nancy Stoops

For years my patients have asked me to provide them with coping skills. Over the years I have offered many but learning to focus on what’s right about your life is the most powerful coping skill and tool I know. It is the very thing that causes gratitude verses self-pity. As many of you know I have lost everybody in my biological family. One brother committed suicide, the other brother was murdered, my father passed from pancreatic cancer and three summers ago my mother died. When I share my story people are always astonished because I’m such a positive and happy person. For decades I have learned to focus on what’s right in my life. I don’t focus on the death and grief instead I focus on all the blessings in my life. Truth be told I’m honored and grateful for each and every day I have in this world. Despite the tragedies of my life, I have travelled all around the world, I have two published books on Amazon, I have a thriving private practice, I have had three amazing therapy dogs, and I have had many close-up experiences with large wild animals and have had the pleasure of working with healers from all around the world. I also have one amazing son and two phenomenal grandchildren and a loving husband of forty years. I am truly blessed!

So now think about all the good that you have in your life verses the bad. Make sure that you’re practicing gratitude verses self-pity. I promise if you do you will see phenomenal changes in your life and your mindset. Please don’t deny yourself your best version of you and your best life. Having the correct mindset can literally cause miracles in your life. Being your best self can help you find Nirvana on earth!!!!

This article was written by Nancy Stoops M.A., M.F.T. Nancy is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has a private practice in Diamond Bar and is currently accepting new clients; she is also a motivational speaker who can inspire your employees or group members. Nancy runs free family support groups, a group on loss for seniors, and groups on how to manage anger. For more information about any of these services feel free to contact her at (909) 229-0727. You may e-mail Nancy at nancystoops@verizon.net. You may purchase Nancy’s books Live Heal and Grow and Midnight the Therapy Dog at Amazon.com.

Hurtful Text

By Melody Kraemer

It’s been a year since I received an ugly, mean text. Have you ever had a moment in time, which I’m sure you have had, where someone has done something to you or has hurt you? The first thing I’m sure you want to do is to get back at them or say something. With every ounce of my being, I wanted to reply and say some ugly stuff regarding that text.

To this day, I still don’t understand how someone could use the “F” word in such an ugly fashion and follow that up by wishing I wasn’t involved in my kid’s life. I would never say such an ugly thing regardless of my feelings towards any human being.

But it was said and hurtful; I’m sure this person meant it to be very painful. When I read it that day, it was like a knife going through my heart; how could anyone wish that the mother of their kids didn’t exist in their child’s lives? 

After all this time, I still have not responded because, from the moment I read that text, I took a deep breath, shed a few tears, and listened to what God had to say about it.

Exodus 14:14 NIV14: The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

That’s what I have done. I have been very still and handed it over to God. Remember always, God’s got this. He’s got your back and will fight your battles. He wants you to live in peace and be happy. Put Him in the driver’s seat! Whatever you are dealing with, turn it over to God.

Melody Kraemer is the Editor and Publisher of AutismMomAdventures.com. Follow her on Instagram @lifewithmelody_k. Tik Tok @lifewithmelodyk and Facebook.com/autismmomadventures. For more information or general encouragement, feel free to email her at: autismmomofboys@gmail.com

Trees

By Mark Hopper

My wife loved to make attractive trees for friends and family members. She purchased cone-shaped Styrofoam trees and decorated them with costume jewelry. She used a hot-glue gun to apply adhesive to the tree and arrange the jewelry in a variety of patterns.

She got this idea when she saw some trees at Roger’s Garden in Newport Beach. The decorated foam trees were priced at several hundred dollars. She decided to make one for herself with some of the jewelry she had at home. It turned out very nice. When people learned she had made the tree herself, they asked if she would make them one also. Women gathered costume jewelry in their home and gave it to my wife and she crafted a beautifully decorated piece for them. She made more than one hundred jewelry trees for friends and family.

Many women shared how much they enjoyed their tree. Jewelry that was just sitting in a drawer was now on display for everyone to enjoy. Some have additional sentimental value when the jewelry is from a parent or grandparent. One woman had several watches that belonged to her father and grandfather. Another woman had commemorative pins with emblems from places she had visited with her husband.

Every tree was unique. While she was making each tree she prayed for the family or individual she was making it for. She enjoyed working with her hands and using her time to craft these attractive display pieces. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Use the gifts and abilities that God has given you to serve others (First Peter 4:10).  I believe everyone has skills and abilities they can use to help other people. Older adults have experience in woodworking, pottery, sewing and painting. Younger adults have skills in technology, music and sports. The list is endless.

Let me encourage you to use the gifts and abilities that God has given you to help other people. A wonderful way to do this is by volunteering at a local school, hospital or nursing home. One of the greatest things you can share is your time. When you share your time, skills and abilities with other people you will encourage them and you will feel encouraged too.

Read 365 more stories and articles (one for every day of the year) in the book Let me Encourage You by Mark Hopper. You can purchase two copies for only $30 plus postage ($5). Buy one for yourself and one to give a friend. Order your copies at mark@efreedb.org.

Fear of the Light

By Michael Armijo

   Doug was a simple guy who had worked hard to be “normal.” His upbringing wasn’t the best, but Doug beat the odds and found life within his spiritual realm. He found God and decided that his true place in life was with Him; he wanted to come out of the darkness and stand strong into the light.

   One day Doug stood in line at the mini mart when a young woman walked in. He immediately noticed her long brown hair, her beautiful eyes, and her slightly crooked smile. She raced in, dropped a fifty-dollar bill on the floor, and she didn’t notice a thing.

   As he hesitated, Doug remembered his obligation to be honest. He remembered that he attends church on Sunday, and for that he just has to do what’s right. But he didn’t. The little voice in Doug’s conscience whispered: “Pick up the money put it in your pocket.”

   He picked up it up, placed it in his pocket, and turned the negative into a positive by bragging about how “lucky” he was.

   Soon after, he re-examined his actions and tried to justify them. He thought to himself: “God wanted me to have this money; he knew how much I needed it.” And then the guilt set in. He wasn’t comfortable attending church on Sunday, and began to run from his guilt by not caring anymore. Doug was now lost to guilt and temptation.

   Several weeks went by and Doug’s dishonesty grew. He felt content about his new place because he received things he didn’t earn; he took things that he didn’t deserve. His cheating the system helped him receive tangible items that he usually couldn’t afford. And then one day a friend invited him back to church and Doug was faced with a very powerful decision: Do I continue my wicked ways, or do I go back to the light?

   If Doug was to give up his newfound lifestyle, he would then have to change what he was taking from others. He would have to exchange his financial riches for spiritual ones. Honesty would once again have to prevail in his life. All the taking, which had grown into an unstoppable disease, would have to subside into giving.  But Doug was afraid of doing what was right.

   I believe that honesty doesn’t just “happen,” and to many, honesty has to be taught. To find a ‘God’- which is a true icon of honesty- is just an uncomfortable feeling that’s unfamiliar and sometimes uneasy to people.

   And although life has given me unpredictable waves that have created confusion within my own life, I sometimes still believe. And sometimes, I HAVE TO believe. I believe that there’s something out there, a higher power, an incredible universe that shines brighter than ever imaginable. I believe that when we smile uncontrollably, when we feel the presence of happiness, we draw from this power that fills our hearts with a specific peace. There are times when it’s unexplainable, when you just can’t pinpoint why. And I believe that it’s at those times we truly feel the power and the benefit of this light.

   And I hope for Doug, and for many others who have subsided into the darkness of life, that they overcome their fears. The fear of feeling content about love, affection, honesty, truth, intimacy, and the fear of anything that’s good. Because this life we live each day really is a good one, once when we pursue the truth. When we’re able to be honest and content about who we really are, where we’re going, and what we believe in. These are the elements that I believe, are the true ones that keep us free from sin, free from pain, and free from being fearful. Once we overcome these fears we’re able to openly feel the glorious rays that come from that wonderful place, which one day will guide our hearts and minds away from the deep, dark place that’s filled with the darkness filled fear of the light.

Always Listen

By Melody Kraemer

I met my husband back in high school. When he walked by, my heart did a skip, and I knew I had to meet him.

Neither one of us knew at that moment when we met each other we were soul mates. We dated through school and were known as “high school sweethearts.”

After graduation, his family moved out of state, and I went with them. Over time I got homesick and returned to Calif with him. Eventually, we went our separate ways. He married and had a family, and I married and had a family. Once in a while, our paths would cross. In hindsight, I think it was our hearts trying to find each other.

Years went by, and my marriage fell apart. Also, so did his. Our paths crossed again, and we were married shortly after that. We had been out of high school for 20 years, but the heart didn’t care; the love never faded. Looking back, we have always been soul mates, and God kept trying to put us together, but we were too blind to see.

It’s been almost 20 years since we said I do. I couldn’t be happier. Now, like any other marriage, it’s not perfect and has its up and downs. But our hearts and souls are happy.

Along these 20 years of marriage, we had two boys. They are three years apart. Both of them are on the spectrum. It’s not easy. But thankfully, I am married to my best friend, who is my rock. He’s my biggest supporter and cheerleader. I am thankful God didn’t differ from His plan for us and brought us together.

Lesson learned we need to listen to our hearts and hear God’s word. Regardless if it’s not logical, it will all work out. Who are we to question God’s plan for us?

All I can say is the heart knows what the heart wants, and God knows what He is doing, even though we may not. Being married to your soul mate is the absolute best.

Psalm 37:4-5 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

Melody Kraemer is the Editor and Publisher of  AutismMomAdventures.com. Follow her on Instagram @lifewithmelody_k and Facebook.com/autismmomadventures. For more information or general encouragement, feel free to email her at: autismmomofboys@gmail.com

Pray for your Kids and Grandkids

By Mark Hopper

University of Arizona baseball Coach Jerry Kendal shared a wonderful story at a Men’s Conference I attended in the 1980’s. When Jerry was a young boy he burst into his grandfather’s bedroom while Jerry was playing hide and seek with his siblings. He was startled to find his grandfather kneeling by his bed in prayer. When Jerry tried to apologize his grandfather told him to not worry – he said he was just praying for Jerry.  

I’m sure that every parent and grandparent prays for their children and grandchildren every day. I always prayed for their health and safety.  And I prayed for their faith, their friends and their future.

I prayed that they would have a vibrant personal faith in Christ. Each generation must decide for themselves if they will become followers of Jesus. Parents and grandparents can sow the seeds of faith in the next generation but each one must decide for themselves who they will follow. The Old Testament leader Joshua said he and his family chose to follow the Lord (Joshua 24:15).

Friends are a vital part of a child’s development. This is true for young children and teenagers, too. Friends have a large influence in a child’s development. Teenagers are impacted by peer pressure too. Friends also provide encouragement and reassurance during those formative teenage years. Friends can draw your children closer to God or steer them away from Him. I prayed for good friends with a common faith.

I also prayed for their future. I prayed God would help them in their studies and guide them in their choice of careers. I also prayed they would find a spouse who shared their faith and values.

Author Tim Kimmel wrote a book titled – Extreme Grandparenting. In his book he emphasized how important grandparents are in the lives of their children and grandchildren. One of the most important things they can do is to pray for their children and grandchildren. The Apostle Paul instructed older men and women to live lives that the younger generations would follow (Titus 2:2-4). I’m sure this included prayer. Let me encourage you to pray for your children and grandchildren every day. Pray for their faith, friends and future. Pray for their health and safety too. You will be glad you did and they will too. 

Read 365 more stories and articles (one for every day of the year) in the book Let me Encourage You by Mark Hopper. You can purchase two copies for only $30 plus postage ($5). Buy one for yourself and one to give a friend. Order your copies at mark@efreedb.org.