"We all want our name called, God offers us redemption" by: Betsy Monico

   The stretch of precious time between winter and spring just a few years ago meant getting bulbs in the ground, T-ball cleats, and treating one final ear infection. 
   Things have changed. I currently find myself raising money for Project Graduation. 
   Before I blink, we will be thinking prom and 8th grade dance. 
   Needless to say, I do not expect any tulips to bloom this year. That was another season of life, but may return. 
   The Daddy/Daughter dance, one of the main Project Graduation fundraisers, took place last night. 
   I joyfully headed it up, but will joyfully let others be in charge of what comes next. 
   Luckily, dads and daughters are pretty low maintenance. 
   Decorations were simple and the menu included cookies and pink lemonade. 
   The “store bought cookies” went just as fast as the homemade ones, and even tied with the Collin Street Bakery assortment. 


"Everyone knows they’ve been given grace, just not the magnitude of God’s grace" by: Caleb Gibson

   Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “Love in such a way that the person you love feels free.” 
   When I think about the way Jesus loves, He loves in such a way that we feel free.  
   We all can choose to have eternal life or eternal death.  
   You are free in Christ.  
   I believe this can be used in many areas of life such as our evangelism and relationships. 
   Jesus once told His disciples, “whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.” (Matthew 10:14). 
   We are called to tell people about the good news of Jesus, but if they do not receive it, we are not supposed to force our belief on them. 
   We must dust our feet off and keep moving forward.  
   Leave the door open for more discussion, but do not let it discourage you.  
   Your job in evangelism is to sow the word.
Jesus also once used a parable to explain how we share the gospel. 


"Reel Reviews: It takes some viewers time to really understand ‘Serenity’" by: Jessica Shepard

   After its first weekend at box offices nationwide, “Serenity” is falling short and struggling with about $4.4 million in sales.
   And I get it – it’s confusing if you don’t pay attention.
   Plus, it gets worse before a twist at the end makes it better.
   Serenity is a thriller film written, produced and directed by Steven Knight. 
   The film stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, Rafael Sayegh, and Jeremy Strong, and follows a fishing boat captain who is approached by his ex-wife to murder her abusive new husband.
   Baker Dill (McConaughey) is an offshore and private fishing boat captain leading tours off a tranquil, tropical enclave called Plymouth Island.
   Are you willing to buck the bad news?
   He’s living the good life running tours with his first mate Duke (Hounsou), chasing an epic tuna that eludes him every time.


"Cat naps count as vacation, right?" by: Jessica Shepard

   So far, the new year is shaping up to be ridiculously busy and I’m already wanting to take a vacation. 
   I’m worried about February on the horizon and trying to also convince mom to take a break for one weekend. As it stands, I’ve been shot down several times.
   And I guess it’s partly because of what I consider to be a vacation.
   I’m all for taking some downtime and resting up – getting refreshed and actually catching up on some missed sleep.
   Not to mention, I also really don’t want to go anywhere or do anything. Just sort of lump around and indulge in my feline instincts.
   You know the ones where you get warm, curl up and nap for what feels like forever?
   Then you get up, eat, take care of business and maybe go back to sleep or just hunker down and binge watch a TV series?
   I’m starting to think that mom is immune to the idea of doing nothing.


"Embracing change may be an important key for investors" by: John Sample

   A holiday-shortened week coming after yet another week of gains. 
   It almost seems to be a lifetime ago that we were getting ready for Christmas and the market hit its low on Christmas Eve. 
   In case you missed the last month, we returned to where the Dow is nearly back to 25000 and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index is back to 2670. 
   There was a point where analysts pointed to 2620 as a support level. I am trying to point out that the trade war has yet to send the economy into a recession. 
   There are still Chicken Littles moving the certainty of the recession back to 2020. 
   They are never wrong, just not specific when the next event will occur.
   Before you interpret my comments to be overly optimistic, this weekend’s news brought concerns over growth in China. 
      I distinctly remember those who said that China had the long view and would withstand any attempts by the U.S. to force a trade discussion. 


What can investors learn from ‘Big Game’ teams?

   We’re getting close to the most-watched football game of the year. 
   The teams that didn’t make it to this “big game” can learn a lot from the two that did – and, as an investor, so can you.
   For starters, “big game” teams usually have very good offenses. 
   When you invest, you need a certain amount of offense, too, in the form of an investment portfolio that can keep moving you toward your goals, such as a comfortable retirement.
   The football squads also have good defenses. 
   To defend your financial goals, such as enabling your family to continue its lifestyle and sending your children to college, you’ll need adequate life insurance.
   Finally, “big game” teams have the ability to adjust their game strategy when they fall behind. 
   As an investor, you should review your long-term financial strategy every so often to ensure you’re still on track toward meeting your objectives. 


God always offers us protection when we’re obedient" by: Betsy Monico

   Not often at the age of 45 do I experience new things. Most of life falls into the category of “Been there, done that, and I own a t-shirt or two to prove it. “  
   Last week, I had a heart to heart with a beloved co-worker about how we somewhat fear new things and are guilty of only doing what we know we can do well.  
   Even with parenting, seldom do I encounter new issues. 
   However, last week I experienced several firsts.  I attended my first power lifting meet.  
   You would think with four, athletic, and active kids, I would have done it all, but that is not true.  
   I ventured to Bosqueville alone to my first ever power lifting meet.  
   I felt nervous, but luckily found myself a great spot to stand in the corner by my son’s station.  
   I gave up biting my nails in Jr. High School, but did pick at my cuticles and fidget from time to time when it was his turn to lift.  


"Abiding in Christ isn’t a special experience, it’s for all true believers" by: Caleb Gibson

   When we read the Bible, there are verses which may need commentary and explanation. 
   I will look at a passage in John.
   Jesus once said, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (John 15:6) 
   Some people may become fearful reading this verse. 
   We must understand this is for those who do not believe in Christ and people who are not a part of the true vine. 
   When I think of branches, I immediately think about pecan trees. 
   We have huge pecan trees that are wonderful, and every so often a thunderstorm will come by and knock the branches off. In fact we have had to trim the branches many times because they would grow right next to the power lines.  
   Power lines and trees do not get along.  
   But this is not what Jesus was describing.  

"Reel Reviews: ‘Glass’ does good job as sequel to 2 previous films" by: Jessica Shepard

   M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is the long-awaited sequel to 2017’s horror “Split” and 2000’s “Unbreakable – not to mention it rounds out the trilogy nicely.
   Even though the film leaves a few loose ends, personally I enjoyed it.
   Glass is rated PG-13 for violence including some bloody images, thematic elements, and language and has grossed over $95.5 million worldwide.
   Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, and Charlayne Woodard reprise their Unbreakable roles, while James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy return as their Split characters, with Sarah Paulson, Adam David Thompson, and Luke Kirby joining the cast.
   The film opens three weeks after the events of Split, David Dunn (Willis), working with his now-adult son Joseph (Clark), has been using his superhuman abilities to protect people from criminals under a new alias known as “The Overseer.”


"Organizing methods interesting, but not going to happen" by: Jessica Shepard

   So, a lot of my friends have gotten onto this bandwagon tidying craze based on the Netflix show “Tidying up with Marie Kondo.”
   Basically, the show takes viewers through Kondo’s tidying up methods by teaching people to de-clutter their life and only keep things that bring them a spark of joy.
   Kondo, a Japanese author, has written two books already on the art of tidying up and is well known in Europe, Australia, and Japan.
   Honestly, I think it’s an awesome thing, but, probably not for me.
   I mean, using the premise of keeping only things that bring you joy is hard.
   I don’t know about you, but I rarely buy something that I don’t love or get excited for?
   Or, there’s some stuff with history attached to it – familial or otherwise – that make it hard to just discard something.
   Especially if it belonged to a relative or friend who died.


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