Heart Choices: 2008-12-07 -->

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Blogging Friends ~ Fun Award Day

Blogging has become a new passion for me. I've kept a journal for years and continue to do so ...but Heart Choices has become an extension of this and it's therapeutic for me. I've become more comfortable with words and writing. My heart has been softened and more open ...especially since it provides me with new opportunities to meet some amazing new blogging friends.

Lisa of Family Life lives in Michigan with her husband Tito and her four children. She's proud to be a soccer, hockey, dance and music mom since those are her kids' favorite activities. If that weren't enough to keep her busy, she also works as a radiology tech ...so we have healthcare in common. Lisa is a Christian and writes from her heart, sharing her love and faith in God. We have that in common too. We follow each other's blogs. She's been so generous by awarding me several bloggy awards. And I've been so busy that I'm just now getting around to posting them and thanking her. I encourage you to visit Lisa's Family Life blog and get to know her.

The Friends award is special. Because I've been pretty much home bound because of the work I'm doing, I've enjoyed the new friends who have come into my life through blogging.

Here are the rules of this award: "These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find, and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more frienships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight or more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

Since I've had the pleasure of making so many new friends, it's hard to choose eight. But here's my list, in no particular order. Do I sound like Samantha Harris of Dancing with the Stars?
I have one more award to present and this one is a very important award: the HOT BLOG AWARD.

Do I hear a drum roll?

And the award goes to ...Sandy of God Speaks Today!!!

Sandy is a new blogging friend for me, but we've already bonded. She lives in Tennessee. I've never even been to that state but ...she's awesome.

We share a few things in common. She's also into health and fitness and devotes one post each week to Fitness Friday. So... if you need some extra encouragement in this area, be sure to visit Sandy. She's also a Christian and can't help share from the overflow of her heart of love. Sandy, keep up the blogging. You're blessing many people.

Well, that's about as many awards I can handle today. Please come and claim your awards. I don't want anyone to feel obligated and uncomfortable, like receiving a chain letter. BTW, I hate those things!

Just know that I'm thankful for each one of you and ...keep on blogging!

Thankful Thursday ~ Praise

It's Thankful Thursday and the theme for today is ~ praise. What a great theme for this special time of year as we celebrate Christmas; the birth of Christ!

But ... what if you don't feel like doing a happy dance or singing and praising?

I say go ahead and do it ...despite your feelings.

Even if your praise begins with a conscious choice, believe me; the feeling will follow. Why do I say this? Because I've been there and done that.

In the Bible, the Psalms contain so many verses of praise. David wrote many of them ...despite many difficult and challenging circumstances.

When I think of singing and praising, I can't help but remember a time when I was visiting my friend Jamie in San Antonio. We were driving in the car and a Randy Travis CD was playing called "Worship and Faith".

All of a sudden, we heard this voice coming from the backseat singing out loud with Randy. Little Mary had her arms in the air, singing with such emotion raising her arms in genuine praise. It was truly a precious moment and memory. Jamie and I looked at each other with that knowing and thankful look.

My thoughts turn to Steven Curtis Chapman, the award winning Christian musician. In August of this year, his precious daughter Maria died in a tragic accident. His son was backing up the car and hadn't realized his little sister was in the way. She was killed. I wrote about this story in another post.

One of Steven's songs is called "Cinderella" and he wrote the words after putting his daughters to bed at night. He continues to sing this song ...despite his feelings after this overwhelming loss. In an interview I watched, Steven believes that one day he will dance with his Maria in heaven. So, in the meantime, he continues ...to sing and praise God.

I want to challenge you today to praise God regardless of your circumstances. Whether you're happy or depressed, whether you're content or discouraged, whether you're sick or healthy. Praise the One, true, living God who created you and loves you so much.

Will you make the choice and step out and praise God?

I encourage you to visit Iris at Grace Alone, who organizes Thankful Thursday. You can find links to other blogs who are participating today in Thankful Thursday.

As always, I love to read your comments. Thank you for taking the time to read Heart Choices. I'm thankful for each one of you.


Best Gifts to Give

The holiday season is here. Most people are busy shopping for gifts, baking, going to parties, decorating their homes, writing cards and volunteering.

Christmas seems to have become synonymous with busyness, instead of ... a time for family, loved ones and celebrating and reflecting on the true reason for the season; the birth of Christ.

How about you?

Have you become so busy that ...you don't have time to sit and simply listen to a troubled neighbor who is hurt and lonely since her husband left? Or to take the time to tell your son how proud you are of his progress in a particular area? Or encouraged your dad to unpack his oils and paint brushes and return to his love for art?

Why do you spend time doing the activities you do at this time of year? And is it for the right reasons? What's your true motivation?

Sometimes people look for status, approval and recognition by doing "good things". Look at her, she's always the first one to volunteer to bake cookies and feed the homeless.

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't do these things but ...would you take a moment to consider why you do them? It may be for the right reason but then again maybe not!

I guess I've been giving this some thought afer reading a comment on one of my previous posts by L-Jay of My Little Norway.

L-Jay commented that sometimes people ...
"commit themselves to lots of charity work at Christmas and therefore not having enough time to spend with their own families".

Hmmm...when does charity work cross over the line? Or is that fair to consider? Isn't it good to help others?

I remembered a book I read several years ago called "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. The author wrote that people receive love in different ways. When we want to show love to someone, our tendency it to do this in our own love language. But if that person doesn't receive love in your particular love language, they may not feel the love you intended.

For example, a wife complains that she doesn't feel loved by her husband. He says that of course, he loves her. After all, he works hard to provide a home and put food on the table. Doesn't that mean he loves her? But if her love language is quality time and he's not spending time with her, she may not feel loved.

Here's a list of the five love languages from Gary Chapman's book:

  • Quality time: Spending focused time with the person
  • Receiving gifts: Giving gifts to show you care
  • Acts of service: Help to carry responsibilities to show you care
  • Physical touch: Hugs and touch to show love
  • Words of affirmation: Saying the words to show you care

My husband's love language is "acts of service". I've found that we've become closer since I've been working and helping him in his startup tech company. Although acts of service isn't my primary love language, I can tell you that it helps our relationship. He feels loved and supported more than ever. And then he shows his love for me by giving me love in my love language; physical touch. Lots of hugs for me so we both feel loved and that's the best gift. :)

If you want to find out what your love language is, take a 30 second assessment by clicking this link.

Charity and volunteering are important things to do all year long. I'm not suggesting you stop doing this.

But finding the right balance during the holidays can be challenging. Have you considered taking your child whose love language is 'quality time' along with you as you serve meals to the homeless? It's a great way to be a a good example and provide a teaching opportunity.

During this Christmas season, consider giving the best gift ...the gift of love.

Take time to show love to others as Christ demonstrated His love to us. Will you take time to discover the love language of each of your family members?

I would love to hear your suggestions on ways to balance your time during this season. How do you balance time with family amidst all of the other activities? Do you know your family members' love language?

Music Is Good For Your Heart

Music has many health benefits. It's good for the soul and has even been used to help cancer patients and children with attention deficit disorder.

But did you know ...music is good for your heart?

Research presented in November of this year at the American Heart Association scientific sessions in New Orleans documented the cardiovascular benefits of music. More information on this study can be accessed here.

The University of Maryland Medical Center conducted the research study. Participants were asked to select music that they enjoyed and made them "feel good". Then they listened to music that was "stressful" for them.

The results demonstrated that ...
  • After listening to the enjoyable music, there was a 26% increase in blood flow.
  • Listening to the stressful music decreased the blood flow by 6%.

This is great news! The changes occurred in the inner lining of the blood vessels. They have the ability to constrict (get narrower) and dilate (expand), which impacts the flow of blood to areas of our body.

Wow; I love this!

Music was such a huge part of my upbringing. As a child, I remember singing in the car with my family to pass the time. Spontaneously, my mom would begin to sing "Row, row, row your boat" or "Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah". Eventually, we would all join in. I know it certainly distracted and entertained us kids ...so we didn't ask "are we there yet?".

Norwegian songs were taught to my brother, sister and me by my mom and dad since that was their heritage. They were fluent in the language and loved to sing. I don't know what happened to me because although I enjoy singing ... my singing voice is not all that pleasant to hear. :)

Recently, I discovered another new blogging friend who lives in Norway. Felisol posted a few YouTube videos of Norwegian music on her blog. One night, I had difficulty sleeping so I mindlessly checked a few blogs. I found myself singing along to the music with a huge smile on my face. Although I knew the music and could sing the words, I didn't know what the Norwegian words meant. So, I added a comment sharing this with Felisol and the next day, she posted the words in English! The music calmed me and ...I even was able to get back to sleep.Thank you, Felisol.

Music can be such good therapy. Even the Bible says that when King Saul was troubled, David would take his harp and play. 1 Samuel 16:23 says that "relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him."

What about you? What kinds of music do you enjoy? How does it impact you? Are there any types of music that are stressful to you? I'd love to hear from you.

How Do You Handle Fear?

Fear seems to be a very real emotion for many people today. I almost hate to turn on the news. All I seem to hear is doom and gloom. Phrases like Depression, recession, rapidly declining stock market and layoffs are becoming common.

I doubt that there's anyone who hasn't been impacted in some way by this current climate of uncertainty and increasing fear.

I attended church yesterday and the title of the sermon was "The Challenge of Christmas: Overcoming Fear". No matter where you go this topic is being discussed.

I remember hearing a motivational speaker give this acronym for fear. I think it was Zig Ziglar.

F= false
E= evidence
A= appearing
R= real

I thought I'd share a few ideas of my own and ask you to share how you handle fear.
  • Be realistic: Take an inventory of what you're really afraid of. Are you afraid of what might happen or has it aleady occurred? A good friend once told me that we waste so much time worrying about things that may never happen.
  • Consider any actions that might be helpful: How can you take action to improve the situation? Taking action often helps to allay fear. I tend to make lists.
  • Don't panic: You actually do have a choice in how your respond.
  • Pray: I find comfort and help knowing that God sees my circumstances and hears my petitions.
  • Don't isolate yourself: In the sermon at my church, Pastor Dan said that when you're hurting the most, you need to fellowship with others instead of isolating and withdrawing. I don't know about you, but my tendency is to withdraw. Instead, it might be healthier to spend more time with friends.
  • Ask for advice: For many people, it's hard to admit they don't have the answers.
  • Talk to someone: This goes along with not isolating yourself. Sometimes a counselor or pastor is the one to seek out. Other times it may be a good friend who is willing to listen.
  • Get some exercise: Simply going for a walk can help to deal with fear and anxiety.
  • Take a moment for yourself: Take a bubble bath, take deep breaths or simply turn off the distractions and be still.

Take a look at this photo I took yesterday in church. I don't know about you but there's something so calming about worshipping with other people. We sang Christmas songs and hymns together in a beautifully decorated sanctuary. It was a special morning to get in touch with the real message of Christmas.

So, how about you? I know my list isn't complete. I'd love to hear any insights you may have about dealing with fear and anxiety.

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