Heart Choices: 2008-11-02 -->

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I've Been Tagged

I've been tagged! I had to look it up because at first I didn't know what it was. But Debra from Clothed With Scarlet tagged me. So now I must compile a list of 15 things I'm not afraid to admit.

Well, here goes:
  1. I grew up in Lindenhurst which is on Long Island in New York.
  2. I introduced the rock star Pat Benatar to her previous husband Dennis Benatar on a class trip to see "2001: A Space Odessy".
  3. I was always sick as a young child because I was born with a congenital heart defect that wasn't corrected until I was 7 years old.
  4. I had to go through the clinic system at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, NY for ten years after my surgery because my family couldn't afford the private health insurance at that time. (We waited all day for one appointment to see the cardiologist or surgeon.)
  5. My favorite sandwich as a child was American cheese on plain white bread (no butter or mayo).
  6. I won four pens at Dale Carnegie when I took their public speaking class (even though my hands were shaking).
  7. I was Captain of the Twirlers for three years at my high school.
  8. I was the valedictorian of my grade school but I didn't do as well in high school because I was more interested in socializing.
  9. I love to spend time with people but need equal time alone.
  10. I'm 100% Norwegian and proud of it.
  11. My husband Greg is a serial entrepreneur.
  12. I always dreamed of having children but was unable to have them.
  13. I was interviewed for a local newspaper article about infertility because the reporter said I was the only respondent who was at peace despite my infertility.
  14. I love my nieces and nephews and have a blast being an aunt.
  15. I've been a Christian for many years but only began to seriously grow in my faith since 1994.

I guess now I'm supposed to tag someone else. I tag:

Kate from Just Another Day in Paradise
L-Jay from My Little Norway


The Prayer

I am asking for prayer for a friend in need. Jeanie and Duane were married three weeks ago. Both of them had been single for many years and we were thrilled that they finally found each other and were so happy.

Duane is fighting for his life in the hospital due to complications following surgery. He is in the Intensive Care Unit. I have posted this video of Josh Grobin and Charlotte Church singing "The Prayer". This is the song Jeanie and Duane chose for their wedding as they shared Communion together for the first time as husband and wife. It was so beautiful as John Shillington and Kathryn Ellis from my church sang it. I thought the words were perfect, even now. I invite you to watch this video and to add Jeanie and Duane to your prayers.


Health in Perspective

Why spend so much energy focusing on your health? After all, we're all going to die of something one day. And it can often take so much effort to do all the right things you know you're supposed to do ... like exercising, eating healthier foods, don't overeat, don't smoke, eat your vegetables.

I'm sure you've heard it many times.

But let's put our health into perspective. Learning to take care of yourself can be one of the best lessons you can learn.

After all, if you don't feel well ... it can be hard to do well. Even if you have the skills and talent to do something, what happens if you have no energy to do it?

Once you have a few health habits in place, it doesn't have to take so much of your time to keep it up.

I enjoy motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. I remember listening to him as he described the concept of priming the pump. If you think of an old fashioned pump, it takes a lot of effort to get the water flowing at first. You must pump hard and consistently. But once the pump is primed and the water is flowing, it takes so much less effort to keep it going. But, if you stop ...it goes back to the beginning and you have to start the priming process all over again.

Think of your body that way. You start doing exercise but ...it's so hard. Well, you're priming the pump. Once exercising becomes a habit, it becomes easier and you don't have to even think about doing it. As I've said before, you wouldn't leave your house without brushing your teeth. Don't leave your house without doing your exercise.

As the weekend is fast approaching, why not take the time to go for a walk or ride your bicycle? How about visiting your local farmer's market and buying some fresh fruits and vegetables. Let's start priming our pump and keep it going!

What choices will you make this weekend to stay healthy?

Thankful Thursday - November Challenge


I love Thankful Thursdays! However, I don't always wake up every Thursday feeling thankful. In fact, there have been a few Thursdays when I didn't feel like writing a Thankful Thursday post because ... I wasn't feeling especially thankful.

But then I make the intentional choice to take action and focus on what I might be thankful for. And guess what always seems to happen?

I start to FEEL thankful!

What you focus on impacts your emotions.

Action motivates!

If you focus on what's wrong in your life... you'll feel more depressed. But taking a few moments to think about what is good can often change your mood. And it might even bring a smile to your face! (If you missed my post on smiling, click here.)

I'm going to throw out a challenge to you! I discovered Leah from Iowa who has a blog called South Breeze Farm. She challenged bloggers to keep a daily list of things for which they are thankful during the whole month of November. So, I decided to accept the challenge.

Here's my start for the month of November:

November1: I'm thankful for my good health. Even though I spent most of the day cleaning and doing laundry, I had plenty of energy. Thank you, Lord!

November 2: I'm thankful on this Sunday for my church family. I'm involved in a small group Bible study of "The Truth Project" by Dr. Del Tackett. My pastor preached a great sermon and led us in prayer for our country and the elections.

November 3: I'm thankful for my husband Greg. Today we celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. We decided not to buy gifts but he came home with my favorite lemon poppy seed muffin from Paradise Bakery. It's the little things that count.

November 4: I'm thankful that I have the freedom to vote and to voice my opinions to others.

November 5: I'm thankful that God is sovereign and in control. The Presidential election is over and we now have a new President elect. Even if my candidate wasn't elected, I'm thankful that I live in a country that holds free elections. The people have voted and have been heard. Now I'm thankful that I can pray for our President elect and that God hears my prayers.

November 6: I'm thankful for Iris who started Thankful Thursday and for the many bloggers who participate. I find myself smiling as I visit many of their blog posts today. By the end of the day, I feel like the "Little Debbie" logo with a big smile on my face. Thanks fellow bloggers.

And now my challenge to you! Will you begin your own list and actually write down at least one thing you're thankful for during the month of November? I have the feeling you may begin to feel more thankful as you focus and look for things you have to be thankful for.

Will you accept the challenge?


Smiling Is Good For Your Health

Smiling is good for you! It can actually change your mood. I have to warn you about something though ... smiling can be contagious. Have you ever seen someone enter a room with a big smile on their face? They can light up the whole room!

The reality of our day is that there are some very real challenges ahead. Turn on the TV and watch the news and it can be enough to get anybody depressed and stressed.

But remember, we may not be able to control all of the stress and circumstances in our lives but ... we have the choice as to how we will respond.

Did you know that the simple act of smiling actually helps to relax your body and can even lower your blood pressure? I'd say that's a good thing. The muscles we use to smile tend to lift our faces. At my age, I like that.

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” Phyllis Diller

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.” Mark Twain

Smiling tends to make you more attractive. Think about it? What attracts you more? A peson who wears a perpetual frown or someone who is often smiling? Frankly, I think there's enough pain and difficulty in this world without choosing to spend time with people who are always unhappy or at least look that way.

However, I'm not advocating living in denial. There is a time and a season for everything. In the Bible, the third chapter of Ecclesiastes says that there is "a season for every activity under heaven ...a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance...". Maybe this is a season of very real challenges for you.

I met Eileen when I was working as a cardiac nurse. Eileen had some major health issues that often required visits to the emergency room and frequent hospitalizations. But in the midst of her many life threatening issues, she always seemed to manage a smile. She told me that she didn't want to lose her sense of humor. And every time I spent time with Eileen, I found myself smiling.

My mother was another great example. She could light up an entire room with her smile. No matter how much pain she was experiencing, she always seemed to have a joke to share and would find delight in the simplest of things.

What makes you smile?

Getting totally drenched with your sister?

Cuddling a furry animal?
Getting a new haircut?
Playing with your big sister?
Riding a horse?

Holding something very special?

Playing dressup with your grandchild?
Welcoming your new baby sister?

Spending time with your grandchildren?

Spending time with your dad?

Training a new puppy named Harley?

This time in history is a very challenging time. And no matter who wins the Presidential election, there's still much work to be done. I guess with all the hand wringing and worrying going on, I wanted to ask you to take a moment and focus on something that makes you smile.

I invite you to go ahead and do it now and then add a comment telling me what makes you smile.


Tips For Reducing Holiday Stress

It's November aleady and did you know that there are only 24 days until Thanksgiving ...and only 52 days until Christmas?

I don't know about you but this year seems to be more stressful. I turn on the news and all I hear about is the mess our economy is in, the downturn in the housing market, the politics of this very important election, rising gasoline prices and rising unemployment. And that's just to name a few.

And now ... the normal stressors that often accompany the upcoming holiday season.

What should be a joyful time of year can often become quite the opposite. We may not have control over all the stressful variables in our lives, but we do have the choice about how we respond to them.

This year I really want to make the choice to enjoy this season despite the stress I may be personally experiencing. So, I decided to start with a list. Some of the items are things I've already done and others I am considering.

I invite you to add your comments and share any suggestions you might have to add to this list. How do you get ready for the holidays? Do you have any tips to get better organized?

Here's the beginning of my list:

  1. Decorate the house with some fall items such as pumpkin smelling candles and a centerpiece for the table.

  2. Unpack my book "Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember" by Barbara Rainey. Each year I reread this book about the history of our country. It's a relatively thin book so it doesn't take very long to read and I learn something new each time. This is a great book to read to your children.

  3. Plan the Thanksgiving menu in advance and enlist the help of family members. Assign dishes to others and organize recipes.

  4. Put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. I must confess that our tree isn't real so this makes it possible to enjoy the tree for a longer time. Enlist the help of the family and make this a fun event.

  5. Write Christmas cards the day after Thanksgiving. I don't mail them immediately but at least they're written and addressed. My friend Sue told me that she prays for each person as she writes out their Christmas card. I hope to do that this year.

  6. Shop for gifts early and use a list. I also try to purchase gifts throughout the year when I find something and especially when it's on sale.

  7. Focus on people instead of things.

  8. Be flexible in my plans.

  9. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, the Salvation Army or any of the numerous opportunities at this time of year. It's a great way to teach your children about the service of giving.

  10. Keep a thankful list and update it with at least one thing every day.

  11. Cut back on the amount of money spent on gifts. Consider making a few gifts by using your creativity or even baking a food gift.

  12. Get out the Christmas music early and listen to it. I love music but often forget to turn it on. I get focused on tasks but when I remember to play music, it always brings a smile to my face.

  13. Keep the focus of the season on the reason; the birth of Jesus Christ.

And in the midst of all of the activities, dont' forget to have fun. Keep a sense of humor and laugh; it's infectious!

I know my list isn't complete so I hope you'll add your comments and suggestions. Let's make the choice this year to not get caught up in the commercialization and stress of the holiday season, but instead enjoy and create special memories.

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