Friday, August 31, 2012

Dealing With Change

It's Five Minute Friday.  I am linking up with Lisa-Jo of The Gypsy Mama.

We write for five minutes flat on a word given to us by Lisa-Jo.  The word for today is ...CHANGE.

GO

Change is something I've always disliked.  I like my life to be predictable.  I am very loyal.  I have friends I've known since childhood.  I love to set up my daily schedule and stick to it.  This has worked well for me in so many areas of my life. But over the years, I've learned a valuable lesson.

Change is inevitable.  

Life happens.  I don't always get to stick to my schedule.  Other people don't always react the way I anticipate or expect.  I need to be flexible.  I don't always get to plan out everything.

In the midst of many life changes, I've learned that God is trustworthy and faithful.  When I lean on Him, I don't need to fear change.  He is with me and promises to never leave me.

Change is an opportunity to trust God.  

When major life changes were thrust upon me:

  • God used many people who ministered to me and came alongside of me.
  • I learned the power of prayer.
  • I learned to read the Scriptures for wisdom and comfort.
  • I learned that this world is uncertain and ever changing.
  • I learned to have an eternal perspective as I keep my eyes on Jesus.
  • I had to return to the work force.
  • I found such joy when I got to work with little children.
  • I made many new friends in a job I never thought I'd be doing.

I'm learning that nothing is certain in this life.  Change is inevitable.

But God never changes.

I can count on that and that is good enough for me.

STOP

How about you?  How do you deal with change?


Blessings and love,

Dealing With ChangeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What We Do Flows Out of Who We Are

Today I'm hosting "In Other Words Tuesday".  I got to chose our quote for today.

I invite you to write a blog post on this quote.  Add the direct URL link below.  I would love to visit you and read your post.  If you prefer, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.  I love to read them all.

So, here's our quote:

"What we do as followers of Christ flows out of who we are in Christ."                         Scott Savage, Minister to Young Adults, North Phoenix Baptist Church

My salvation isn't based on works.  I can't do enough good deeds to earn myself a place in heaven.


I see many people who are trying to do many good things.  They become so busy volunteering and never say no.

But consider this.  God sees everything we do.  He also looks into our hearts and knows the motive behind all we do.

Are you doing things for recognition?  Are you doing things because it's expected of you?  Or are you doing things out of love?

Ephesians 2:10 goes on to say that we were created to do good works.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, God has prepared good works for me to do.

I don't know about you but when I really think about and consider what Jesus did for me on the Cross ... I'm overwhelmed.

Jesus was humiliated and treated so unfairly.  He could have called on a legion of angels to rescue Him and take Him down from the Cross.  But He didn't.  Because He loved you and me, He endured the humiliation and torture on the Cross.

Jesus died so my sins could be forgiven and I could have peace with God.  But I had to receive that salvation as a gift.  I didn't earn it.  I didn't deserve it.  I received it with gratitude.  How amazing is that?

In response:
  • I yield to His leadership.  
  • I am no longer my own boss.  
  • I read my Bible daily.  
  • I pray. 
  • I listen for His soft voice (not audible).  
  • I respond in obedience.  
Now I can't say I do this without fail.  I still slip up and indulge my flesh at times.  But how thankful I am for His mercy and forgiveness.

How can I not desire to serve Him in any way He asks of me?

But how do I know the works He has planned for me to do?

I believe the secret is found in John 15:5:


The real secret is ...abiding.

When I abide in Him, I will bear fruit.  I don't have to struggle to bear fruit.  It's a byproduct of remaining in the Vine.  

An orange tree doesn't produce figs.  It yields oranges if it's watered properly.

As I stay connected to Him, He will prompt me.  

I have a choice.  Will I respond in obedience?

I remember who I am in Christ?  Here are just a few:
  • I am God's child.
  • I am a light to the world.
  • I am free from condemnation.
  • I am a temple of the Holy Spirit.
For a more complete list, you can access Dr. Neil Anderson's PDF here.

I encourage you to share your thoughts and link up today.

Blessings and love,

What We Do Flows Out of Who We AreSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, August 27, 2012

Counting Sweet Blessings


There's something so special between a mother and her daughter.  I see that when I look at this photo of my niece Kristin with her four month old daughter Kenzie.  There is such a sweetness about this photo.


Kenzie looks so secure and happy in her mama's arms.  Isn't that how it should be?


I couldn't resist sharing this one of Kenzie touching her toes.  She's growing so fast.

Before I know it, she will be wearing shoes like the ones in our Pre-K 3 class.  Don't you love the pink sneakers the girls love to wear?


Of course, we need to teach them how to sit so they will listen carefully.  Criss cross applesauce, hands in your lap.  However, they need lots of reminders at the beginning of the school year.  It seemed like Heidi and I just got finished teaching and polishing off last year's class and now we start all over again.  :)


I'm so thankful for the rain we've received in the Phoenix area.  I had to take photos of the rain, of course.


I was stopped at a traffic light when I took this photo; no worries.  And check out the pond that formed at our school from one day of rain.


#501 Seeing lots of photos of Kenzie Lee as she grows daily
#502 Thankful for Facebook as I live in Phoenix and Kristin and Kenzie live in Florida
#503 A new batch of three year old children to teach
#504 Observing the children as they learn the routines
#505 Walking in line to art, PE, and Spanish class with 18 three year olds who forget to look at the head in front of them
#506 Seeing the smiles and waves of the children from last year's class
#507 Laughing as four year old Aadarsh asked me if I was still 10 years old.  When I said no, he excitedly shouted "you must be 11, just like my brother!"
#508 Running into four year old Bella and her mom at the grocery store
#509 Now every time I see Bella she holds up her fingers as she counts how many times she's seen me each day
#510 Three year old Melika introduced me to her mother saying "Miss Debbie, her name is Mommy"
#511 Much needed rain in Phoenix
#512 The sound of the rain on our roof that doesn't leak :)
#513 A wonderful sermon on Sunday at church
#514 Praying with a friend who is going through hard times
#515 Sharing the wonderful news that my friend Elaine just published her second book "Beyond Cancer's Scars: Laying Claim to a Stronger Spirit" (you must check out the promotional video)

I'm smiling as I'm writing this post.  How cool is that?  Not too long ago I was going through such a difficult and uncertain time in my life and ...now I'm able to smile.

God is so good and God is so faithful.

I'm linking up with Ann of A Holy Experience as we count our every day blessings on Multitudes on Mondays.



Blessings and love,

Counting Sweet BlessingsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hosting "In Other Words Tuesday" This Week

This Tuesday I have the pleasure of hosting "In Other Words Tuesday".  Each week we get to write on a quote provided by the hostess and link up to their blog.

The quote I choose for us to write on is:

"What we do as followers of Christ flows out of who we are in Christ"   Scott Savage, Minister to Young Adults, North Phoenix Baptist Church

I encourage you to consider writing a blog post on this quote.  Return to Heart Choices on Tuesday to link up.

What does this quote say to you?  How would you respond?  Do you agree or disagree?

I would love to read your posts.

Blessings and love,

Hosting "In Other Words Tuesday" This WeekSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, August 24, 2012

Five Minute Friday ~ Join

I'm participating in Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo of The Gypsy Mama.

Each week, Lisa-Jo gives us one word to write on for 5 minutes flat. It's been a great exercise for me to learn to gather my thoughts quickly.  Our word for this week is ...JOIN.

GO

Sometimes it can be easier to sit on the sidelines.  To be an observer and not join in.

I think of the years when I didn't want to join a church.  It was easier to watch what I called Church TV each Sunday.  I could hear a positive uplifting message and be good for the week.  What I realized though is that I really wasn't growing in my faith.

The first time I attended my church, I sat on the back row not wanting to be noticed.  I had to check this out but wasn't sure about it.  Two ladies sat in that area and when the pastor asked us to greet one another, they immediately came over to me and reached out their hands.  They introduced themselves as Snow and Frost.  That was their last names and I could never forget their kind friendly faces.  I decided to come back the next Sunday and the next.  Each time Snow and Frost would be there looking for me.  When I missed a Sunday and came back the next, they told me they missed me.

So many people say they don't want to join a church.  After all, they are all a bunch of hypocrites they say.  But after joining myself, I realized that we all have our own pain and hurts and ways of dealing with them.

I gained so much by joining my church.

  • I learned from my pastor as he preached from the Bible
  • I became involved in the lives of others
  • I felt the love of other believers who prayed for me
  • I was able to worship God together with other believers
  • I was encouraged in my walk of faith
STOP




Blessings and love,

Five Minute Friday ~ JoinSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Letter to God



I'm joining Bonnie for another Faith Barista Jam today.  She has invited us to write a letter to God.  The only requirement is to ...be real.

At first, I was hesitant.  After all, that's kind of personal.  But after joining in last week with a letter to my younger self, I found it very revealing and I hope it blessed a few people.  So I will be transparent once again.  So here goes ...

Dear God,

First of all, I want to thank you for loving me and forgiving me.  Your grace is amazing to me!  I'm so glad I am your child and that you will never leave me, no matter what!

I also want to thank you for how you created me.  Although I didn't understand as a young child, the congenital heart defect turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  I came to understand what it felt like to be different and to feel like I didn't quite belong.  Some of the children didn't understand when I couldn't run and play with them and this saddened me.  But you tenderized my heart.  I knew how this felt.  I believe that you gave me a vacuum in my heart that could only be filled by you.

I know I was a prodigal for many years.  I was afraid I was missing out on fun times.  But through it all, I learned many life long lessons.  I also realized that all the fun the world offers cannot compare with the peace that you provide. When I became serious in my relationship with you, it impacted the way I viewed life and people.

I was so thrilled when life seemed to be going so well.  I quit my nursing job and had time to volunteer, develop hobbies and spend more time with family.  I remember that every time I walked into my dream home I almost had to pinch myself.  I was so thankful and always told you so.  I never expected to lose it all!  I didn't think I'd done anything wrong and I believed I was generous with others.

However, as time goes by I realize that you taught me valuable lessons.  I learned to hold very loosely to the things of this world.  I learned to abide in you and to lean on you.  You became my strength.

Just today I was realizing how much I've grown over the past few years.  You taught me many valuable lessons.  And even though I live in a very small condo and I'm working full time in a career that is not nursing, I am content.  I am surrounded by little children all day long.  They are quick to give hugs and tell me they love me.  I remember the years of trying to get pregnant with no results.  Now I spend my day with little ones.  You are so faithful to remember my heart's desire!

Thank you Lord for each day you give to me.  Help me to use each day in a way that is pleasing to you.  May I share your light and love to others.  Guide me and lead me every step of the day.  Thank you for speaking to my heart through your Word.

In Jesus' name I pray,
Amen



Blessings and love,

My Letter to GodSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, August 20, 2012

Do You Notice Blessings All Around You?

Sometimes life can get so hectic that we never stop to notice the blessings all around us.

Counting those every day blessings isn't too hard when I'm surrounded by children all day long.  They always seem to delight in the simplest of things.  Adults can learn much from them.

One of the young boys in my after school group brought a tortoise to school for show and tell.  Of course, he had to take it out and show it to us too.  The laughter and fun as they were handling and observing the tortoise was contagious.


And in our three year old class, the children are learning and discovering too.  During our exploration time, they move from one table activity to the next.  They find new ways to play with ordinary objects.  


Although it continues to be hot in Phoenix, sometimes I forget to stop and notice how truly beautiful our surroundings are.  I love the mountains.  And did I mention how thankful I am to be located back near the heart of the city?  I am close to everything.  Woo hoo!


I pass by Camelback Mountain every day in my car.  There is a carving in the mountain that looks like a monk that is praying.  Can you see him in the picture?


We had a Vision Fair at our church on Sunday.  Our pastor encouraged us to get involved in our community.  There were vendors from many organizations sharing volunteer opportunities.


These two ladies have a love for sewing.  They found an organization that needed people to share life skills with other women.  So now they volunteer at House of Hope as they teach women how to sew.

#491 The beauty of the mountains in Phoenix
#492 A church family that cares about others and is committed to serving others
#493 Living close to the heart of the city
#494 Smiles and laughter of children
#495 The opportunity to share the Gospel with a teacher from my school
#496 An amazing sermon on "The Will of God"
#497 Getting to participate in an online Bible study by my friend Lisa Shaw
#498 Being back to work full time
#499 Discovering a website called Rainy Mood where I can hear the sound of rain any time
#500 A little bit of rain for Phoenix this past week

I'm counting those every day blessings with Ann of A Holy Experience for Multitudes on Mondays.


Blessings and love,

Do You Notice Blessings All Around You?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, August 17, 2012

Five Minute Friday ~ Stretch


I'm participating in Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo of Gypsy Mama. We write for five minutes flat on a word that she gives us each week.

Our word for this week is ...STRETCH

GO

I don't like being stretched.  I tend to stay in my comfort zone.  It hurts when I am being stretched.

I recently tore my rotator cuff.  That's what I get for lifting heavy garbage bags and heaving them into the garbage dumpster with one hand.  My left shoulder suffered the consequences to the point where it was hard to sleep at night.  My shoulder would ache.  I couldn't reach back with my arm.

I am almost finished with two months of Physical Therapy.  And believe me ...I've been stretched.

I learned that the muscles around my shoulder needed to be strengthened.  I had to build them up.  I also had to stretch out my shoulder muscles.  The whole process was painful.  But I am now sleeping through the night. I can actually reach back with my arm.  I have almost no pain.

I realize that in my life I need to go through some stretching to move forward.  

God has a plan for my life.

If I stay complacent and in my comfort zone, I may miss out on all He has planned for me.

So I give in to His stretching.  At times it is painful.  But I know it's for my good and His glory.

STOP

Are you allowing God to stretch you?

Blessings and love,

Five Minute Friday ~ StretchSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Letter to My Younger Self: What I Know Now

What I know now.

Have you ever wished you could go back and tell your younger self things you've learned along the way?

Bonnie of Faith Barista gave to us a challenge in our Faith Barista Jam for this week.

Write a letter to yourself at an earlier time in your life. Share what you know now about the faith journey with your younger self. Your younger self can be any age you feel prompted to address. e.g. “Dear Jane, ….”.
When I was seven years old I had open heart surgery to repair a congenital heart defect.  This was back in 1960 before the current surgical techniques.



Dear Debbie,

I know you are scared.  That boy in your class ran up and told you that his mom said you were going to die.  But remember how Mom talked with you and comforted you?  You will come through the operation fine and be better than before.  You won't have to ride that special needs bus anymore.  You'll be able to walk to school with the other children.  You won't have to feel so alone.

God has a plan for your life.  

When you invited Jesus into your heart you became His child forever.  Mrs. Anderson explained what that meant but it will take time to understand.  Everything that happens to you will be used for good.

God sees the times when you were counting the hours in the Intensive Care Unit, waiting for the next needle sticks, trying not to cry, wanting to be brave.  As you were lying in the oxygen tent with tubes connected to your little body, He heard the cry of your heart as you longed for Mom to be able to hold you.  That cry won't be wasted.

In the years to come when you grow up and become a heart nurse, you will have a tender heart for your patients.  After all, you know what it's like to experience heart surgery and to be scared.  You will show the families how they can still touch their loved one despite all the tubes in the ICU.  You will try to teach and comfort with love and kindness.

Just trust God.  He can be counted on.  You don't have to try to make everything OK for everyone.  After all, you're only seven years old.  It's OK to cry once in a while.  You don't have to hold it all in so you won't upset anyone.  God sees your heart and your tears.  And He loves you and cares about you.

Nothing is wasted.  God will use this experience for good.  You can count on that Debbie.

Blessings and love,

A Letter to My Younger Self: What I Know NowSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Running the Race

The London Olympics have come to an end.  I found myself glued to the TV screen as I watched amazing athletes compete in their category.

I cheered on the U.S. Women's Gymnastic team.  I was thrilled when Gabby Douglas won the gold medal for Best All Around and gave God the glory.

To continue reading, please go to Laced with Grace.

Blessings and love,

Running the RaceSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Joy of Teaching Children

Teaching little children can be challenging.  It's a new school year and a new classroom of little three year olds.  This is their first experience of being in a classroom ...to learn.  

It takes time, positive reinforcement and lots and lots of patience.

So what do we focus on in the beginning of the school year?

Good Manners

Good manners are so important.  It cannot be taken for granted. The little ones learn to say 'please' and 'thank you'.  As they are given jobs to perform for the day, Heidi thanks them and they are prompted to say 'you're welcome'.

A High Five chart is highly visible in our classroom.  Each time they are caught using good manners, they receive a star next to their name.  It's too cute to see their smiles when they receive a star.  At the same time, Heidi and I use good manners with each other.  After all, we want to model what we are teaching.

During snack and other meal times, there are many opportunities to practice good manners.

Walking in a Line

Getting from one area of our campus to another can be challenging with a group of three year old children.  So they learn to walk in line. By the end of the school year, this runs very smoothly.  But in the beginning it can be kind of funny.

We sing a little song to help them remember.

"Keep your hands where they belong; in your pockets or behind your back.  Look at the head in front of you.  Catch your bubble."

When they catch their bubble, it reminds them not to talk.  This can be quite the challenge.

Listen

It can be so hard for children to listen.  They want to talk when they want to talk.  We teach them to turn on their listening ears.  They practice turning them on for us.  Frequent reminders are needed at first.

As I look at some of the initial teachings that occur in our classroom, I realize that adults need to learn too.
  • How often do you talk when you should be listening?
  • Do you model good manners?
  • Are you careful as to who you follow?

How thankful I am to apply some of these lessons to my own adult life!

I'm continuing to count my every day blessings with Ann of A Holy Experience for Multitudes on Mondays.



#477 The opportunity to teach good manners to children
#478 The first week of school behind me
#479 The excitement of watching the London Olympics
#480 A weekend of much needed rest
#481 The excitement in my dad's voice as he described his new home
#482 Seeing baby pictures of my great niece Kenzie on Facebook each day
#483 Making progress on my eBook
#484 Enjoying the company of my co-workers
#485 Hugs from the children each day
#486 Hearing three year old Sam come up to me and say "I love you Miss Debbie"
#487 Seeing the sweet faces of the children from last year's class
#488 Helping children in older classes with their homework in the afternoon
#489 Watching 7 year old Roxy choreograph a dance as I played a song on my Kindle Fire
#490 Completing the decorating of our condo

I couldn't resist sharing a photo of little Kenzie.  I thought she looked like she was trying to pray.



Blessings and love,

The Joy of Teaching ChildrenSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, August 10, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Connect

It's Five Minute Friday when we write for five minutes on a word given to us each week by Lisa-Jo of Gypsy Mama.  Our word for today is ...CONNECT.

GO

I love people.  I enjoy being around people.

There's something about making a connection with others that can be such a source of love, comfort and encouragement.  Of course, there's always a risk of getting hurt.  I see so many people who avoid relationships because of that fear.

But I've discovered that reaching out and connecting with others is well worth it.

My friends have been there for me through thick and thin.  Most of my closest friends have been my friend for many years.  They are life long connections.

I've discovered another way to connect with others.  Blogging has opened up a whole new field of connections.  This has come as a surprise to me.  I find that I really care for my blogging friends and become invested in their lives and their concerns.  I've even had the privilege of meeting many blogging friends in person.  I've never been disappointed.  Getting to know each one in advance through their writings on their blog have bridged that awkwardness that can happen at first meetings.

So my advice to you is ...connect.

Reach out to others.

STOP

Blessings and love,

Five Minute Friday: ConnectSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, August 6, 2012

Back to School Time

It's that time of year again.  It's back to school time.

I had a good summer spent moving and getting settled in our condo. I also had the opportunity to visit family and to rest.  I'm ready to get going and have a wonderful school year with our classroom of three year old children.

I had a special blessing yesterday during our church service.  Pastor Dan asked all of the teachers, teachers aides, and anyone who works with children's education to come up to the front of the sanctuary.  He included the home school moms too.  He thanked us for our dedication and commissioned us for service.  He then prayed for us.  What a blessing!

I am fortunate to work with a wonderful teacher.  The two of us enjoy each other and work so well together.  This will be our third school year together in the three's.  Both of us want to remain positive throughout the year.

I captured this photo of Heidi in our classroom.  She was actually talking to a prospective parent.  And no, we don't get to wear shorts. It was during a week of preparing our classroom.  The words written are from Heidi's Facebook page and I just happened to add them to this photo.  I think it's a great way to keep her accountable, don't you?


I had to share this cute wreath I found on Pinterest (of course).  Isn't it the cutest?


And I had to add this saying that I found on Pinterest.  This is what all of the children in our class learn to recite.  When we pass out scissors and they get green instead of yellow, the little ones say "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit."  It works!

I'm still continuing to count those every day blessings.

#467 Finally getting settled in our condo
#468 The opportunity to work with 17 new students who are three years old
#469 Being prayed for by my pastor
#470 Having a summer off (this never happened when I worked as a nurse)
#471 Having access to my treadmill since Greg unpacked all of the boxes that were in that space
#472 My rotator cuff is feeling better after working with my Physical Therapist
#473 Having lunch with my good friend Helen
#474 My mother-in-law finally got to see the renovation we've done at the condo
#475 Home cooked meals
#476 A kitchen that is workable

I'm linking up with Ann of A Holy Experience for Multitudes on Monday.



Blessings and love,



Photo Credit: Freebiespot.net
Back to School TimeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Am I a kid or what?

Am I a kid or what?

I love this place...Carmel, CA

I love this place...Carmel, CA