Category Archives: SGV-IE Columnists

Skydiving a Life-changing Check Off My Bucket List

By Nancy Stoops

I have lived a very exciting and fulfilling life.  I have travelled to all seven continents, have had many close-up wildlife experiences, worked with shamans and chiefs, meditated with the monks in Thailand, swam with sharks, have two published books on Amazon and so much more. My bucket list was very short because at sixty-five I really have done it all.  Skydiving was always on that list and it seems like every time I was ready to go, we would have a death in the family.  Well in July I finally had the opportunity to finally go and it was life-changing.  I have never felt such freedom as I did jumping out of a plane at 14,000 feet.  As a child I would have flying dreams and on that day my dreams came true and I was flying like a bird.  Skydiving also reminded me that there isn’t anything that I can’t work through or accomplish.

I think Covid has left many of us complacent because our lives got shut down and we got comfortable in that. I know many people are having a hard time going back to school, work and just generally back into life.  Skydiving was a great way to awaken me and all of my senses.  I just feel so very alive again and excited for the next adventure.  I hope you can find something to wake you up and make you part of the living again.  Try to fight the fears and the lies that hold you hostage from the life you deserve to have.  You deserve to be excited, fulfilled, happy and content.  Make today the day you start living your best life and being your best self!!!

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 nancyjstoops@verizon.net. You may purchase Nancy’s books Live Heal and Grow and Midnight the therapy dog on Amazon.net.

A New School Year

By Melody Kraemer

A new school year! Who is ready? I have enjoyed these past summer months with my kids at home, and it seemed we were off to some adventure almost every day. 

It could be that we subconsciously are making up for the summer before when we were in “lockdown.” The summer, let alone this year, has flown by in a blink of an eye. Now the kids will be starting school, and though that much-needed break between us is probably needed. I will miss the lazy days of sleeping in, the swimming, the extended sunshine days, no schedules, and all the downtime. Now isn’t that what summer is all about?  

In a few short days, we will buckle back down and get back on our daily schedule. It won’t be easy, and granted, I should have stayed on a schedule during the summer, but my kids needed this break and had only a few short weeks of summer. With my boys having ASD, autism spectrum disorder,  they attended ESY (extended school year). So these few weeks of summer were precious to us, we enjoyed them and made as many memories as we could.  

My youngest will even be going back to school with a brand new look. He decided to find his daddy’s beard trimmer and start shaving his head. There’s never a dull moment in our world, now onto the next season of life. Reach out and let me know if you are ready for school. 


Ecclesiastes 3:1
1. For everything there is a season, and a time for every a purpose under heaven


 Melody Kraemer is the Editor and Publisher of  AutismMomAdventures.com

Follow her on Instagram @So_Cal_Autism_Mom_Adventures and Facebook.com/autismmomadventures 

For more information or general encouragement, feel free to email her at: autismmomofboys@gmail.com.

Deliberate Confidence

By Pastor Dennis Morales

“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…” 2 Timothy 4:17

What gives you confidence?  Watching the “2020” Olympics, I can’t help but to be impressed by the confidence of the athletes who are on one of the biggest stages of their lives.    Families and whole countries are cheering them on and hoping they bring home the gold.   It would seem a lifetime of training, a strong support system, a focused mind, and for some faith, has given these athletes such strong confidence.   Paul the Apostle used athletic metaphors often.  One of his last metaphors he employed was of both a fighter and runner.   As Paul was penned his swan song letter to Timothy, he says “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). What is most impressive is that he wrote these words from prison, with few friends left.  In prison for his faith in Christ.  Having few friends willing to stand with him for fear of their own lives, or because of societal shame.  What then gave Paul confidence?  Paul experienced God standing with him in past circumstances and difficulties.  He also knew countless others were spurred to faith in Christ through his chains as his faith was on display (Philippians 1:12).  Many saw the reality of Christ power in his willingness to suffer for Christ.  Oswald Chambers once said, “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”   Paul found himself at times in chains, being beaten, shipwrecked, and even abandoned, but those were times when he knew the Lord was closest and stood with him (2 Timothy 4:17).  Paul said, “none of these things move me” so to finish his race with joy (Acts 20:24).  Joy in the fact that he would finish his race on this side of Heaven with unwavering faith.  Deliberate confidence is (Faith) that God is always in control.  The Lord stood with Paul as Paul stood with the Lord.  I pray you that you live deliberately confident in the fact that God hears you and is standing with you. 

Calvary Chapel Eastvale meets at Eastvale Elementary located at 13031 Orange St, Eastvale.  Sundays 8:30/10:30am.  Livestream, YouTube Live, and Facebook Live is also available.  http://www.calvaryeastvale.org. 

India

By Mark Hopper

One of the most memorable places my wife and I have visited is India. Several years ago we flew from Los Angeles to Taiwan then on to Singapore and arrived in Mumbai on the west coast of India. It was a long journey. We spent several days in Mumbai seeing some of the sights and visiting some ministries working among the poorest people in the city. Then we flew to Hyderabad where our host met us at the airport and drove 3-4 hours outside the city to a boarding school and orphanage.

We were surprised by the heavy traffic. Driving in India is not for the faint hearted. Hundreds of cars, trucks and scooters crammed together honking their horns as they waited for the traffic lights to change. When we left the city behind us we found the two-lane highway heart stopping too. Cars and trucks struggled to pass each other on the busy highway.

The countryside provided a different perspective of life in India. We saw people working the fields and were impressed by the variety of agriculture that stretched to the horizon.

We spent a week at the boarding school and orphanage working alongside the staff and leading a children’s program with over 300 students participating. We shared Bible lessons, led recreation and engaged the students in making crafts and art projects.

We were impressed with the hard working staff and the enthusiastic students. Students were respectful and energetic. The school provided meals, housing and a rigorous education for the children. It was a week we will always remember.

Our host drove us back to the airport in Hyderabad where we caught a flight to Delhi in northern India. We couldn’t leave this beautiful country without seeing the Taj Mahal. This magnificent structure is located about two hours outside of Delhi. It is listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Several of our neighbors in Diamond Bar are from Indian descent. They are delightful people who are proud of their heritage. I love to tell them about our trip to India. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people. Let me encourage you to set your sights on visiting other parts of the world. Get outside the tourist centers and catch a glimpse of daily life in the country. And get to know your own neighbors who have come from other parts of the world. 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.

Healing Faith

By Pastor Dennis Morales

“Be of good cheer, daughter, your faith has made you well.” Matthew 9:22

As Jesus would pass through the region, people would crowd him to see Him, hear Him, or seek to be healed by Him.  His reputation preceded Him as a prophet and healer, but little did they know at the time that He was the Christ, who was prophesized about going back to Genesis 3:15.   As Jesus made his way through this particular city, and as crowds were pressing into Him, He says “who touched me?” (Luke 8:45).  One of His disciples says with exuberant confidence “Master everyone is touching you.”  Yes, obviously, many seemed to be touching Him, but Jesus said this was different.  He says, “I perceive power has gone out from Me.” (Luke 8:46).   Something was different about this person’s touch.  When Jesus asked the question “who touched Me,” the crowd dissipated a bit and all who was left was a woman on her knees trembling.   This woman reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was healed instantly.   She “reached out” as a last resort after 12 years of seeking physicians and exhausting her every dime.   She was a woman most likely ostracized for her condition as she was considered “unclean.”  Ostracized from family, friends, and being able to worship at the temple.  Jesus then reaches out to her and speaks to her.  He calls her “daughter.”  Something that she needed and possibly longed to hear.  A term of endearment.  Having a stigma follow her for years, she had little contact with people.  He fulfilled her emotional need, but most importantly, He says to her, “your faith has made you well.”   Her greatest need was for a Savior.  Faith was necessary for her healing.  She, in the midst of years of disappointment, believed God could heal her.  Religion or a church cannot heal you, but if you reach out to Jesus and ask Him into your heart, He can touch you spiritually.  Believe He can transform you today.   

Calvary Chapel Eastvale meets at Eastvale Elementary located at 13031 Orange St, Eastvale.  Sundays 8:30/10:30am.  Livestream, YouTube Live, and Facebook Live is also available.  http://www.calvaryeastvale.org. 

Learning to Trust Yourself

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

By Nancy Stoops

            Your instincts can guide you well if you can just learn to trust yourself. Remember when you were younger and taking a test and you were told to go with the answer you first thought was correct.  This is truly the concept of trusting your instincts or your gut.  Nobody knows you better than you know yourself so it makes sense to learn to trust yourself to know what is best for you.  Think about how many times you have proven that you can trust your instincts.  Look at the evidence in your life about how many times you have been right about something. So then why is it you still doubt yourself and feel you can’t make good life decisions? It’s probably some lie about yourself left over from your childhood. You can learn to combat that lie by looking at the truth about what an amazing person you are today. 

            Take a moment right now and think about how far you have come.  Take some time to look at all of the evidence in your life that shows you that you are worthy of self- trust.  Take some time to think about how proud you are of where you’re at and that your mindset has really changed for the better.  Now that you are learning to value yourself you are making healthier and more functional decisions about your life.  Learn to journal as you continue to move forward in your personal growth and document each step as evidence that you can trust yourself and believe in yourself.  It’s really important that you start to recognize your progress and give credit to yourself to build the confidence you need to trust your instincts and in turn trust yourself. I believe in all of you and celebrate all of your personal growth and I’m here to tell you that you can trust yourself!

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 courts 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.

Autism Mom: This Little Light of Mine

By Melody Kraemer

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let shine.  I sing this to my boys almost daily to remind them that they have a light within them and let the world see it. 

 Being autistic, they may not fully understand the concept of what I am singing, but I know they are taking it in. 

 I pray my boys will grow up and be confident, have strength, follow their hearts, know they are essential in this world, and let their light shine. 

 I also take to heart that I need to shine my light and walk and talk with confidence. Not everyone I run into is kind or understanding of my boy’s ASD. On social media, some people could be mean and rude behind their keyboards.

At times I have been defensive, or I feel defeated. I get unsure of myself, and I question things.

I know I am the best mother for my kids though I let people dim my light or shake my confidence from their nasty words. I have to remind myself who I am. I am a child of God and I don’t need validation from anyone. We all have a light inside of us, so let’s go out and brighten up the world and let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

  Deuteronomy 31:6: 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”


Melody Kraemer is the Editor and Publisher of  AutismMomAdventures.com

Follow her on Instagram @So_Cal_Autism_Mom_Adventures and Facebook.com/autismmomadventures 

For more information or general encouragement, feel free to email her at: autismmomofboys@gmail.com.

Wash Your Car & Meet Your Neighbors

By Mark Hopper

I love the long summer evenings in Southern California. I love to get more things done after dinner with the extra daylight we enjoy in June and July. I was surprised the clock read 8:30 PM when I came into the house after washing my car.

An added bonus to the long summer evenings has been meeting more of my neighbors. There are a lot of men, women, and young adults walking past our house every evening. Many of them are doing laps around our block and come by several times. And many of them are walking with a spouse, children or exercise partner.

I like to pause what I am doing and say hello as people pass by. Some share encouraging comments on how nice my car looks. I like to return the compliment and tell them what a good job they are doing as they walk through our neighborhood.

Some people pause when I ask them their name or where they live. It has been challenging to learn new names and remember them the next time I see them. But I enjoy our brief conversations and I like getting to know my neighbors better.

There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). It is hard to love your neighbors if you don’t know your neighbors. One of the biggest obstacles to getting to know your neighbors is the garage door. People drive down the street, press the garage door opener, pull into their garage and close the door. It is pretty hard to get to know them when you can’t even speak to them.

Other obstacles include the back yard patio and the indoor air conditioning. It is interesting that older homes were built with a front porch. People would get out of their warm house on a summer evening and sit outside to enjoy a cool evening breeze. The front porch provided a natural setting to greet people walking by. It enabled neighbors to meet other neighbors.

Let me encourage you to get to know the neighbors who live around you. Why not wash your car during these long summer evenings and say hello to the people who walk by. Why not set up a lawn chair in your front yard instead of sitting in your air conditioned house or the back yard patio. You will be glad you did and your neighbors will too!

You can read 365 more stories (one for every day of the year)  in the book Let Me Encourage You. by Mark Hopper for only $25  (includes postage). Order your copy this week at markh@efreedb.org. Visit Mark’s website to read his latest stories at Letmarkencourageyou.com

Strength

By Pastor Dennis Morales

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:12

We read of Daniel being a fearless follower of God (Daniel 2).  The Babylonians were trying to assimilate the young Jewish males in order to control them.  They knew the young men had strong religious ties, so the Babylonians sought to change the names of the young men, change their worship, and change their diet.  Daniel resisted the king’s delicacies, purposing in his heart not to defile himself and honor God.  Another occasion finds Daniel resisting mandated worship of the king and continued to pray to his God.  Scripture says that “when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God” (Daniel 6:10).  As a result, Daniel eventually finds himself in the lion’s den, where God delivers him.  You can’t help but to notice a truth in this Biblical account of Daniel.   God delivers Daniel while in the lion’s den.  As we walk with the Lord, we can experience God delivering us from our troubles on occasion.   Many times, our prayers are requests for God to take us out of any given difficulty.  One of the things that may be hard to process is that sometimes God wants to deliver us while in the time of difficulty.  No doubt, the Lord was with Daniel in the lion’s den and God delivers him.   What gave Daniel the strength to stand against the enemy?  In Daniel 6:10, it says that Daniel “always prayed.”  He was accustomed to praying.  Daniel heard God often, and it would appear that Daniel drew strength from his prayers.  Do you need strength today?  You will find great strength in kneeling before the Lord (Philippians4:7).  Due to school closures, Calvary Chapel Eastvale is temporarily meeting in a “Drive In format” at American Heroes Park in Eastvale.  Livestream, YouTube Live, and Facebook Live are also available at 8:30am and 10:30am Sundays.  Starting Sunday JULY 11, Calvary Eastvale will be moving to a new location at Eastvale Elementary School. 

Autism Mom – God is always in Control

By Melody Kramer

Sometimes I worry, I get frustrated, and anxiety fills my soul. I am uncertain about things and I get overwhelmed. Just the other day, I felt all these emotions and felt consumed with what we were going to do. I had bought Disneyland tickets and reserved our day for June 1st.

I started to panic a little after reading that there was no tram. Instead, you would have to walk from the parking garage to Disneyland.

Though my stress was more about, you had to walk back after a big day at Disneyland with two autistic boys.

Plus, I was reading where it was best to line up at the parking garage before they opened.

Oh, the thought of waking my boys up very early and getting them out the door, I could feel the stress rise within me. I started to think maybe I should have never bought the tickets and said a prayer, Dear God, what am I going to do, help. 

Then out of the blue came an invite to spend two nights at The Howard Johnson Hotel in Anaheim by The Mommy Blogger Tribe I belong to. It just so happened it was from May 31st to June 2nd. I had no clue this hotel was right across the street from Disneyland and within walking distance until we checked in.

I couldn’t have asked for more of a perfect two days at the hotel and a fun-filled day at Disneyland.

It’s incredible how things work out when you turn them over to God. 

Joshua 1:9 NIV Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

You could read all about our mini-vacation on my website: Autsimmomadventures.com

Follow: @So_Cal_Autism_Mom_Adventures and Follow: Facebook.com/autismmomadventures 

For more information or general encouragement, feel free to email at: autismmomofboys@gmail.com.

Find Peace with Meditation

By Nancy Stoops

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

I have been meditating daily since I was a teenager and now, I am sixty-five and am very peaceful in my mind, body and spirit.  There are three different ways that I would recommend that you start meditation.  The first one can be done daily with those of you that take walks.  As you are walking pay attention to the rhythm of your walk.  Practice paying attention to the rhythm as each foot moves.  Make that rhythm all that you are focusing on.  Any time your mind starts to wonder or think about anything take your focus back to the rhythm of your walk. The second way to meditate is to just focus on your breathing.  You should be breathing deep from within your diaphragm not your chest.  Once again just focus on your breathing just like the rhythm of your walk.  If you get distracted or start to think, just go back to focusing on your breathing. The last one is to focus on a word. I like the word peace.  So now close your eyes and just see the word peace.  When your mind starts to think or you lose your focus just go back to seeing the word peace.  I would recommend you start practicing these forms of meditation for 5-10 minutes daily.  Meditation is a very difficult skill to master so be patient with yourself.

Many of my patents were on pharmaceuticals for depression and anxiety and now nobody in my practice uses them anymore.  I attribute much of this to the meditation that I include in their sessions and in my free support groups.  You are welcome to come and experience a guided meditation and body scan two more forms of meditation led by me in my groups.  My groups meet every Monday evening from 6-8p.m. and the first and third Friday of every month from 9a.m.-11a.m. and they are free.  Just email me before each group at nancyjstoops@verizon.net and I will send you the link for the zoom group.  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 nancyjstoops@verizon.net.

Christmas Isn’t Cancelled

By Pastor Dennis Morales

“Let nothing you dismay, Remember Christ our Savior Was born on Christmas Day, To save us all from Satan’s power, When we were gone astray, Oh tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy…”

These are the amazing words from the Christmas Carol “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”  I love these words.  Such a reminder of the Heart of Christmas.  During this Covid-19 Climate, people have unwittingly said “we have to cancel Christmas.”  I understand the reason for the phrase, I understand the fear and the hurt that this year has brought.  I also understand not meeting with family because of uncertainty.  But the message of Christmas is so much more than a gathering or gifts. 

I pray that this Christmas, we don’t miss the heart of the celebration of Christmas.  We see some in the Gospels who missed the heart of Christmas.  We see the innkeeper who missed out on Jesus because he was too busy (Luke 2).  We need to make time for the Lord.  We see that King Herod was too fearful to let Christ rule his life (Mat 2).  Turn to Christ today.  Don’t let the pandemic replace Christmas in your heart.  May we not allow anything take the place of worshipping Jesus Christ, who is the true meaning.  Christmas is the ushering in of hope to this world.  The hope of eternal life.  This hope was wrapped and placed in the manger. 

We remember Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger (Luke 2:12).  In time, your Christmas gifts will mostly be forgotten.  But God has given us the ultimate gift—the gift of His Son Jesus Christ.   This year lets mindfully peel back the exterior and look at the Heart.  Jesus is our gift.  May we remember it’s God’s eternal Gift that cancels out the power of sin and death over us who trust in Him (John 3:16).

Due to school closures, Calvary Chapel Eastvale is temporarily meeting in a “Drive In format” at American Heroes Park at 8:30am and 10:30am.  All midweek services can be viewed on Facebook Live at 7pm.  All of our services can be viewed on our Facebook Channel (Calvary Eastvale).  Download our online bulletin to stay current at calvaryeastvale.org.

The Christmas Train

By Mark Hopper

One of my favorite Christmas toys was my train. I received a Lionel Train set for Christmas when I was a young boy. We have a photo of me and my father and my grandfather playing with my new train on Christmas morning in the early 1960’s. We still have the brochure that came with the train. The date on the brochure says 1962. 

The train set was lost for many years in a closet in my parent’s home.  I thought they had given it away after I got married. When we helped my parents move out of their house, my brother discovered the train set. But he didn’t tell anyone. He surprised me on Christmas Day with this mystery box.

Now we have a photo of me, and my children and my father playing with that old train at Christmas in the 1980’s. After we moved to Diamond Bar, the Christmas train ended up on a shelf in our garage for many years. Finally, some of our adult children asked me to get the train down and set it up for their children to see.

I was reluctant to do it. I didn’t know if the train even worked anymore. But, children and grandchildren can be pretty persuasive.  I finally got the box down and set up the train around the Christmas tree. To my surprise it worked! However, the wires that powered the transformer were brittle and the train engine was sluggish. I took the engine and transformer to a model train store in Costa Mesa. The owner was able to clean it up and lubricate the engine and put a new cord in the transformer. My childhood train was running again.

Every Christmas season we set up the train Lionel Train again.  When the grandchildren come to our house, I let them help me set up the train around the Christmas tree. I let them help me operate it too. They enjoy it and I do too. Even the youngest ones have become confident in driving the train. It is fun watching them start and stop the train. They like to load things on the different train cars and deliver their freight to different destinations. There are some train wrecks from time to time but they make the necessary repairs and get the train running again.  My wife took a video a few years ago to capture the memory of another generation playing with the train.

I hope that my children and grandchildren will continue the tradition of playing with the Lionel Train with their own families for many years to come. It is one of my most memorable Christmas gifts.

You can find more stories and articles by Mark Hopper at his web site – letmarkencourageyou.com. His book with 365 stories and articles (one for each day of the year) is available for $25 which includes postage – contact him at markh@efreedb.org.

Autism Mom: Twas The Night Before Christmas

By: Melody Kraemer –  Mother of two autistic boys

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

everyone was awake and wouldn’t settle down.

With the chaos and madness that was looming in the air

nothing was being done with care

due to the excitement for Santa Claus soon to be there.

Mama was going crazy and growing tired of it all.

Her patience was running thin

she was about to reach out to Santa with a call.

The kids were running amuck and wouldn’t go to bed,

while mama took Tylenol for her aching head.

Mamma and daddy decided on a  nightcap

and regretting the afternoon when the kids took a short nap.

When all of a sudden the house quieted down.

Mama got worried and started looking around.

The kids were playing on their Ipad and not making a sound.

Until one child saw mama and started following her around

to download an app that he just found.

The tiredness and the exhaustion from the holiday bliss,

mama  finally reached her limit and yelled, if you don’t go to bed now

Christmas you will surely miss.

So with a twinkle in their eyes and smile on their face

the kids never settled down, and momma asked God for grace!

 “Merry Christmas to all and to all a peaceful night.

2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Melody Kraemer is the Editor and Publisher of Macaroni Kid Jurupa Valley-Eastvale and Autism Mom Adventures. For more information or general encouragement, feel free to email her at: autismmomofboys@gmail.com.

Celebrate You This Year

By Nancy Stoops

As 2020 comes to an end I think we should all be very proud of how we survived.  The pandemic changed things this year for everybody.  Now the holidays are upon us and we are trying to figure out different and safe ways to celebrate.  Many of us will have virtual celebrations but make sure you celebrate. Take sometime to reflect the changes in you and the new found coping skills and courage that seemed to appear in you this year.  Be proud that you are still standing.

Make sure that you get out however you can this year and celebrate.  Take sometime to drive in a neighborhood with lovely holiday decorations.  Go ahead and make those marvelous holiday cookies and plan a drive by cookie and gift exchange.  Remember just because we have to celebrate differently doesn’t make our celebration a bad thing.  Be creative this year and start some new holiday traditions this year.

            Be kind to yourself and make the holidays as easy as they can be.  Take sometime for yourself to rest and relax and recover from this very difficult year. Think about how adaptable you had to be this year and feel some pride. Just take sometime to enjoy the season however you choose to celebrate.  Remember to be grateful that you are still here and just enjoy being here. Look at the holiday lights, smell those wonderful cookies in the oven, decorate your home to make you smile and do an act of kindness for others this magical season.  I wish you all and joyful and very peaceful holiday.  I hope you all find amazing ways to celebrate the holidays and to bring in the New Year.  May all of you be showered with an abundance of magical holiday blessings!!!!!!

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.

Pastor’s Corner: To Tell or Not To Tell

Mark Hopper

Many years ago we took our children on a trip to California. We spent two days at Disneyland and then drove north to visit my brother and his family in Grass Valley. Our kids enjoyed time with their cousins and we enjoyed catching up with my brother and his wife.


One day we went to a pumpkin patch and each of our kids and the cousins selected their own pumpkin. They looked forward to carving and decorating their own pumpkins for Halloween when we got home. On our way back to Arizona we realized we would need to stop at the border for an agricultural inspection. We knew we would be asked by the border agent if we had any agricultural products that we were bringing into Arizona from California.

My wife and I had a lively discussion about what we should say to the agriculture inspector. If we said that we did not have any agricultural items – our children would get to keep their precious pumpkins. But, our children would also know we did not tell the truth. On the other hand, if we did tell the border agent that we did have some agricultural items – their personal pumpkins might be confiscated at the border and they would have nothing to carve for Halloween.


What would you say if you were faced with a similar situation? Do you tell or not tell? Do you disclose or conceal. Do you tell the truth and risk the loss of the precious pumpkins? Or to you tell a lie and hope you don’t get caught?


A man named Abraham faced a similar test. His wife was beautiful. He told her to lie and tell people she was his sister. He told the same lie when he was asked about her. Abraham was afraid someone might kill him and take his wife (Genesis 20). Years later his own son Isaac did the same thing following of his father’s example (Genesis 26)!


I know people are more important than pumpkins. I believe it is better to tell the truth and face the consequences than to tell a lie. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Put aside falsehood and speak truthfully” (Ephesians 4:25). Your reputation is on the line and your children may follow your example. When we got to the border we decided to tell the inspector about our precious pumpkins. We held our breath – then he said no problem. Pumpkins are permitted! Let me encourage you to tell the truth. We were glad we did and you will be too.

You can find more stories and articles by Mark Hopper at his web site – letmarkencourageyou.com. His book with 365 stories and articles (one for each day of the year) is available for $25 which includes postage – contact him at markh@efreedb.org.

What Lessons Should We Have Learned from This Pandemic?

Nancy Stoops

First and foremost, I want to say we take so many things for granted.  Hopefully this pandemic has taught us to be grateful everyday for our lives, our health, our families, our friends, our pets, the beauty of nature, all the freedom we have and the abundance of basic necessities that most of us have. Hopefully we all have learned to be more patient and understand that after a storm we can find a rainbow if we take the time to look. I also hope that people have learned to be more present and mindful and have learned to live in the moment. Each moment we have the honor of being in is truly a gift.  This is why it is called the present and hopefully you don’t throw presents away, instead you embrace them.

            I hope that if you had some extra money, time, food, clothing or other basic essentials you made some donations. There is still a huge need and I promise it will make you feel better. There are many people that don’t have the basics right now due to the pandemic and also the wildfires and could really use a hand right now.  Instead of feeling sorry for yourself do something great with all of that emotion. By helping others whether they be people or animals you are making a difference.  If everybody could give a little right now, we’d all feel better.

            I hope all of you have found some inner strength you didn’t even know you had.  So today and every day pat yourself on the back for who you are with the promise that tomorrow you will be an even better version of yourself. I hope all of you are doing well and know that we will all survive and come better versions of our already amazing selves!!!!!!

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 nancyjstoops@verizon.net  You may purchase Nancy’s books Live Heal and Grow and Midnight the Therapy Dog at Amazon.com.

Autism Mom: School Lunches

Melody Kraemer

Philippians 2:4 NKJV.

“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others.”

My boys and I go out almost every day to pick up school lunches. If anything, it gets us out of the house for a bit and gives us a break from on-line school.

On this one particular day, as I turned down the school street, there was a car in front of me that was going very slow. It was obvious this person was looking for something or someone. I just drove around them and proceeded into the school.

I was anxious to get the school lunches and get home before school started again. I still had to drop off something to a friend of mine, but she lived just right behind where the school was. 

As I left my friend’s house, I got in my car as a car pulled up beside me. They rolled down their window ( it was that same car in front of me at the school going slowly). She asked if I knew how to get to the school. ( I was confused a bit since she was right in front of the school.) I started to explain to her to go down the street, turn right, turn right again, and go to… I could see her face was saying, “what?” 

At that moment, I said, follow me. So I had her follow me to the front of the school. I pointed to the open driveway to get in, and I made a U-turn to go home. My son asked what I was doing, and did I know her? I said, no, I don’t know her, but whenever you can help someone do it. He said, I bet she appreciates you getting her to the school. I replied, Well, we may just have answered her prayer. 

“Remember, whenever you’re in a position to help someone, be glad and always do it because that’s God answering someone else’s prayers through you.”

Melody Kraemer is the Editor and Publisher of Macaroni Kid Jurupa Valley-Eastvale and Autism Mom Adventures. For more information or general encouragement, feel free to email her at: autismmomofboys@gmail.com.

Schools Honored For Outreach Efforts During Pandemic

Kelli Gile

Diamond Bar – C.J. Morris, Castle Rock, Evergreen, Maple Hill, Quail Summit, and Vejar Elementary Schools earned the 2020 California PBIS Community Cares Award for outstanding support to students, families, and communities during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.

Maple Hill Elementary staff sent students “Making Lemonade Out Of Lemons” video.

Maple Hill Elementary produced several outreach videos featuring the “Making Lemonade Out of Lemons” school closure theme.

“We wanted to support our families with weekly messages of encouragement, read-a-louds, and suggested activities to promote social and emotional wellness,” said Principal Kelly Morris.

In one video, staff members suggested fun stay-at-home “opportunities” including exploring nature, dancing, playing board games, learning family traditions, and even having a backyard picnic.

“Let’s seize the day – better yet squeeze the day!” Morris exclaimed.

Evergreen Elementary 5th graders penned caring letters to seniors living in quarantine.

Evergreen Elementary fifth grade students wrote letters to assisted living facility residents during the first weeks of quarantine.

“Hopefully you’ll get to see your friends and family soon,” offered one caring 10-year-old who said she was keeping busy reading Harry Potter books, playing with sisters, and watching TikTok videos.

“I understand that you might not be happy and you can’t travel or eat at your favorite restaurants,” said 11-year-old Kyra Chen.

“You should always stay positive and try to have a good time!”

“The seniors loved receiving the letters and some wrote the children back!” said Principal Trina Dreyer.

Challenge Accepted! Vejar Elementary families stay connected during distance learning by sharing online photos.

Vejar Elementary hosted online weekly spirit challenges, family activities, and sent daily text messages.

Families stayed connected while posting first day of school photos in a shared Google folder for the August 10 challenge.

“We are working to make sure we continue to recognize the positive moments from our students and celebrate them during distance learning,” said Principal Whitney Prenger.

This school year will include virtual student shout-outs, birthday celebrations, Bitmoji postcards, and monthly assemblies recognizing Valuable Vejar Vaqueros for demonstrating respect, responsibility, and safety.

“We also look forward to providing virtual classroom visits and school tour footage to get our students acquainted and excited to return as soon as it is safe to do so!” Prenger said.

C.J. Morris Elementary staff members distribute supplies for distance learning.

C.J. Morris Elementary staff members rallied together to provide supplies to students and families to support distance learning.

“We strive to be global citizens while implementing PBIS in conjunction with our IB Attributes,” said Principal Fayroze Mostafa.

“It truly takes a village!”

Quail Summit Elementary shared daily wellness activities and strategies to help students handle the stress of living in quarantine.

“Schools really need to think outside the box, now more than ever, when it comes to COVID-19,” said Principal Frances Weissenberger.

Castle Rock Elementary delivered messages of community, kindness, and
empathy during pandemic.

Castle Rock Elementary concentrated efforts on maintaining the sense of community built throughout the year.

“Students and staff alike were mourning the loss of one another and the connectedness we shared,” explained Principal Jen Alcazar.

“We focused on helping all our Knights demonstrate perseverance and grit while at the same time building faith that things would eventually return to normal.”

The school posted messages of hope and inspiration on social media platforms using photos, videos, and student highlights.

Homebound students were also challenged to reach out to others who might be struggling.

“They responded with love, compassion, and action doing what they could to uplift one another and by sending messages to essential workers,” Alcazar added.

Diamond Bar High Alum Jason Wright Makes History

Kelli Gile

Diamond Bar

Diamond Bar High School alumnus Jason Wright makes
history as the new president of the Washington Football
Team.

Walnut Valley USD proudly congratulates Diamond Bar High School alumnus Jason Wright (Class of 2000) who has been named president of the Washington Football Team.

Wright becomes the first Black person to hold the league title, and at age 38 is the youngest team president in NFL history.

Wright was a NFL running back for seven years with Atlanta, Cleveland, and Arizona and a business consultant at McKinsey & Company for the past seven years.

The popular Brahma football player and class president attended Northwestern University and earned an M.B.A from University of Chicago.

Diamond Bar High School alumnus Jason Wright has been named president of the Washington Football franchise. The star football player, #18, won back-to-back championships

In high school, he won back-to-back championships in 1998 and ’99 where he scored the winning touchdown to claim the CIF Southern Section Division II title and an undefeated 14-0 season.

“Jason was always an A-plus kid,” retired Diamond Bar High coach Terry Roche told the Associated Press. “It’s all a credit to his parents and family.”

“What a great day for him and his family and all of us that know him.”

The 1999 championship team was quarterbacked by Ryan Maine, who later became head coach at Diamond Bar, and is the current principal at Walnut High School.

Maine knew his friend was destined for great things since their days playing Pop Warner.

“He was always so smart, he was Diamond Bar’s class president, and he was going to Northwestern for medical school, but ended by being drafted and played in the NFL,” Maine shared with the Associated Press.

“He was our team captain and always one of hardest workers. He set an example. I always talk to high school students now and always tell them to surround yourself with people that make you better. I look at that class led by Jason, and he was one of those people that made us all better.”