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Thankful Thursday ~ Looking Back

It's Thankful Thursday and Laurie of Women Taking A Stand is our host this week. Laurie asked us a question.

What do you see when you look back over this past year?

What a perfect question to ask since tomorrow begins a new year; 2010.

I've heard it said not to look back but only forward.

While I don't think we should dwell on the past, I learn much by looking back. It provides me with a time to reflect and assess:

  • What mistakes did I make ...so I won't repeat them?
  • What lessons did I learn?
  • What am I grateful and thankful for from 2009?

Since this is Thankful Thursday, I'd like to focus on ...being thankful.

Although 2009 was a very difficult year for me, I've much for which I can be thankful. So, here's my thankful list (in no particular order):

  • Family and friends who have walked alongside me when I felt like I had nothing to give
  • My church family and pastor who have reached out to me in ways I would never have imagined
  • Blogging is high on my list too. I have rediscovered my voice and have found writing to be so therapeutic.
  • My blogging friends are such a joy and encouragement to me. I never knew I could feel such love for people I never met in person but I do.
  • The love I feel for my husband.
  • I'm learning so much in the field of social media through the work I'm doing with my husband.
  • Spending so much time online, I've reconnected with many cousins and family members throughout the world.
  • I've been able to pray for so many families in need and this is such a privilege.
  • I've been introduced to so many new songs through Then Sings My Soul Saturday.
  • I'm on the lookout for things to be thankful for as I know I will write a thankful Thursday post.
  • I can find encouragement and accountability to make healthier lifestyle choices as I write my Fitness Friday posts.

I could go on and on but I'll stop here. See, when you focus your mind on looking back to remember what you can be thankful for ...it changes your perspective.

May today be a day of reflection. Tomorrow is a new day and a new year; a day to look forward.

I'm so thankful that the Lord's mercies are new every morning and that ...He is faithful.

Happy New Year,


Looking to the New Year

holy experience

On this Walk With Him Wednesday, Ann of @Holy Experience has asked us to share about looking to the new year.

I've been praying about this next year and have chosen my theme for 2010.

It is ...trust and obey.

I remember teaching the little children in Bible Study Fellowship the words to this song.

Trust and obey
For there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey

I can easily sing those words. But do I really put them into practice?

I have to say ...no, not always.

I've been studying the book of Philippians recently. I look forward to the early mornings when I can open up my Bible, have my notebook and pen ready and click on Opening His Word Together.

Scott Samter is an excellent Bible teacher as he goes through the scriptures verse by verse. I've been so blessed by his teachings. BTW, he is Jill's hubby of Forever N Ever N Always. Need I say more?

Anyway, Philippians has been just what I've needed to study right now. Isn't that just like our God?

How I long for that peace; the peace of God which passeth all understanding.

As I look to 2010, my desire is to put these verses into practice. Enough worrying and experiencing anxiety! There is nothing too difficult for my God. But will I trust Him? And will I obey?

That is my goal for 2010. To trust and obey!

BTW, I'm also joining eLisa of Extravagant Grace the first week of January. She has an excellent guide that you can download to help with priorities and goals for 2010. Read all about it on my post here.

Let's get ready for 2010. I believe we can be used by God as we blog from our hearts. I also believe we can be a source of encouragement and prayer for one another.

Will you join us? And don't forget to visit Ann @ Holy Experience for Walk With Him Wednesday as you look forward to 2010.



Living Intentionally Together

Extravagant Grace

A new year is almost upon us. I can't believe it will be 2010 in two days.

Where has the time gone? I guess that's what happens the older we get, right?

It's that time when we often make those New Year's resolutions.

Let me tell you what I'm going to do this year.

I'm planning to join eLisa of Extravagant Grace for the first week of January. If you aren't familiar with her ...you need to get to know her.

She's so talented with web designs and is a wonderful writer and best of all ...an encourager.

Have I told you I love women who encourage others? I think that's so important as we all could use some encouragement along this journey of life.

eLisa has spent some time in Anne Ortlund's book called "Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman". I checked my bookshelf and I found that I have a copy of this book. So I'm going to dust it off again.

eLisa put together a wonderful three page document to help us look back and review 2009 and then to set new goals for 2010. I love how her three steps include:

  • Prayer
  • Read the Scriptures
  • Write it down

Here's what you can do to prepare for January 1-7:

  • Visit eLisa at Extravagant Grace and read all about it.
  • Add a comment and tell her you're in on this one.
  • Download or print off the Living Intentionally Guide to get ready.
  • Post about it on your blog, if you like.
  • Tell your friends.
  • Don't forget to return January 1-7 for a week of Intentional Living.

Let's join together and pray for one another. Let's be united as sisters in Christ as we live our lives in a God honoring way.

May we learn to let Jesus be Jesus in us and through us ...to impact this world.

I hope to see you next week!



In Other Words Tuesday ~ Is My Life a Bethlehem?

It's In Other Words Tuesday and Miriam of Miriam Pauline's Monologue is our host. This week she has chosen the following quote for us to write about:

Such a timely quote after celebrating Christmas; the birth of our Savior. It continues to amaze me that Jesus (who is fully Divine) emptied Himself of His position and came to earth ...to be born as a human.

And what did He do?

Philippians 2:6-8 in Today's New International Version says:

"Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - death on a cross."

Jesus humbled Himself, taking on human nature and was born into a specific time and place; Bethlehem. He lived a perfect life of trust and obedience to God the Father. He demonstrated such amazing love that resulted in death on a cross. And that was for me ...and for you.

When I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior, I acknowledged that He paid the price for my sins on the cross and I received His free gift of salvation. It happened at a specific time and place when I trusted Him ...and I was born again.

Although I have not lived a perfect life since that time, my desire is to grow to become more like Jesus' example. And He has not left me alone. The Holy Spirit resides within me; to teach me, to guide me and to convict me.

When I deal with challenges in life such as:

  • An uncertain future
  • Unsaved loved ones
  • Heavy burdens

I follow Jesus' example.

I trust and obey.

I believe His promises. He will never leave me nor forsake me. I read His Word and apply it. I spend time praying, telling Him what's on my heart. The more time I spend with Him, the more I find Him trustworthy.

I am learning to rest in Him. I find that nothing is too difficult for my God. And I'm learning to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. I don't do this perfectly but I'm growing.

I've learned that to be a Bethlehem, I must trust and obey.

As I allow Jesus to be in control of my life, there's less of Debbie ... and more of Him.


Julie & Julia

Guess what I got for Christmas? My husband and I were not doing gifts this year but he surprised me with one anyway.

But guess what? I LOVED IT!

What could be a better gift for a gal who loves to cook and to blog?

The DVD of the movie "Julie & Julia" of course. I was literally jumping up and down when I opened it.

Check out this preview:

I loved the scenery. At least, I loved the scenery in France where Julia Child lived. I'm quite familiar with the burroughs of NYC since I grew up on Long Island and that's where Julie lived; in Queens. Not so pretty but perfect in this movie as it went back and forth to Julia's life and back again to Julie.

And here's where blogging comes in. Julie starts a blog as she works her way through Julia Child's famous cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". Her goal is to complete it in one year.

I had to laugh when she wrote on her blog "is anyone out there?". Can you identify? And her first comment was from her mom!

I laughed out loud when Julie had over 50 comments and she jumped up excitedly at her work to tell her friend. I love to read comments too.

I also had to laugh when she and her hubby had a fight. As she was writing on her blog, she had to delete that part to protect their privacy. There are times when I write on Heart Choices and end up deleting portions after I proof read it to protect the innocent. Nothing like telling the world everything that goes on in your life, right?

So, if you're looking for a fun movie to watch during this week, I would highly recommend "Julie & Julia". It's rated PG-13 because of a few words (bad language). But otherwise, I loved it.

Have you seen it? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


God of All Comfort

Christmas is a wonderful time of year as we celebrate the birth of our Savior; Jesus Christ. But for many, who are going through loss of loved ones or children with life threatening illnesses ...it can be so difficult.

Many of you are familiar with Abby Riggs, the daughter of Brent and Michelle. They've shared Abby's story on ...Where Laughter Lives :: The Riggs Family Blog. But it broke my heart to read about how they had to postpone their Christmas celebration as Abby is back in the hospital. Abby needs our prayers but her parents Michelle and Brent need them too. Will you join me in praying for this family?

(It is Sunday morning and I was just checking blogs and found the wonderful news that Abby came home from the hospital after having another spinal tap. God is so good and thank you for your prayers. You can read about it on the Riggs Family Blog here. She still needs our ongoing prayers though.)

And there was news of several deaths including the dad of Loren of The Magoo News. And Susan of Runner Mom lost her dad suddenly (Elaine of Peace for the Journey shares about it here.)Laurie of Beauty for Ashes just lost her mom one week ago.

My heart goes out to Melanie of Bella ~ Mella. Her son Andrew died this past week. I'm sure it comforts her to know she will see her son again one day but in the meantime ...it hurts so much.

It's a hard thing to go through, especially at this time of year.

Denise of Shortybear's Place spent time in the hospital this Christmas with her husband who had a stroke. Her "lovebug" has stabilized but Denise's health isn't the best.

May we remember our blogging friends who are going through difficult times right now. We can offer comfort through our prayers and words of love.

I love eLisa of Extravagant Grace's Scripture graphic above of 2 Corinthians 2: 3-7. Such words of wisdom to encourage others.

Much love,


Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ Not That Far From Bethlehem

I almost forgot that it was Saturday so I'm a bit late in getting up my Then Sings My Soul Saturday post.

I chose a song called "Not That Far From Bethlehem". This song is sung by three young gals from my church; Jamie, Carol and Julie. It was taped at my church so ...I hope you enjoy.

It doesn't seem like Saturday. I guess with Christmas Day falling on a Friday, I got a bit messed up. But I hope to do some blog hopping today and sing along with others who are participating in Then Sings My Soul Satuday. You can link up or visit others by going to Amy's Signs, Miracles and Wonders.

Happy Saturday and thank you for visiting Heart Choices!


Merry Christmas 2009

Merry Christmas to all of my family, friends and blogging buddies.
The best gift we can receive is a personal relationship with Jesus.

Christmas Decorations at Rich Gifts Graphics & Blog Design for Christian Ministry

He will give you true JOY no matter what's going on in your world.

May you celebrate the reason for the season; the birth of our Savior.

Blessings and love,

(JOY image credit: Edie of Rich Gifts)


Christmas Fun 2009

(Image credit: Norway.com)
Merry Christmas! I can't believe it's almost Christmas Eve 2009. Time seems to fly by so quickly. Although I hoped to blog more throughout this past week, somehow time got away from me.

However, I've been on Facebook and have enjoyed getting back in touch with some of my extended family from all parts of the world. My cousin James uncovered some old photos of our family and posted them for all the world to see. But, they really are cute and we've all had a good laugh adding our comments and memories.

Many of you are having a white Christmas but in Phoenix that's not the case. However, I can say we're having a cold spell which means ...low 60's during the day.
This is a photo sent to me by a cousin in Norway. I believe it's on the road to Sumstad, the town where my grandpa was born and raised.

Here are a few of the fun things I've done this week. My friend Terri invited me to our annual Christmas Tea at the Phoenician Resort. We've been doing this for the past 12 years or so and I always look forward to it. This is the Christmas tree in the hotel so beautifully decorated.

Take a look at the delicate little tea sandwiches they served. Aren't they cute?

And of course, the variety of teas! I feel like such a lady getting all dressed up and being served tea ...once a year.

And this is a completely edible gingerbread house. It was baked and put together by the pastry chefs at the Phoenician. It's much too pretty to eat. They even had a little train running on the tracks throughout the house.

I also went to a Christmas Luncheon hosted by my friend LA. A dozen of us women get together once a month. Our common bond is our love for the Lord, for each other and we all met at Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).

The lighting in this photo isn't the best but it's the only one of the whole group of us.

This is LA. She's got the best sense of humor. She and a friend even wrote a book called The Proper Pig Guide to Mealtime Manners. Yes, she's actually holding a miniature piglet. Her book is a cute way to teach children and yes ...even adults, manners at the table.

We have lots of fun as a group but best of all ...I love how we get to pray for one another.

So, I really do things occasionally other than work; LOL!

I'm going to close out with a video of a song I love from the early '70s. It's not anything spiritual but I simply love the voice of Karen Carpenter. I always listen to this song on Christmas Eve.

I wish each one of you a Merry Christmas. I'm thankful for my family, friends and ...my blogging friends too.

Sending hugs to each of you.


The Gift of Friendship

The gift of friendship ...what can I say? I am so thankful and grateful; yes I am!

In fact my friend Sue bought this door hanger for me one year and I always have a special place for it each Christmas. Thank you Sue!

Since I've been spending so much time in my home office, it's hanging on the door where I can see it and ...remember my friends.

This past week, I had several opportunities to celebrate with a few of my favorite friends.

And since my blogging friends have become so important to me, I thought I'd share with you. I thought I could write it all in one post but I may need to separate them into several so I don't lose half of my readers; LOL.

I'm so blessed by my friendship with Jamie.

We met because of her daughter Ellie. When Ellie was about 2 or 3 years old, she was in my Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. I was her children's class leader for three years. And one day, Ellie spotted me in church one Sunday as her dad Todd was holding her. I hadn't realized until then that we went to the same church.

A deep and wonderful friendship developed between her mom Jamie and me.

I'm actually old enough to be Jamie's mom but I've found our age difference hasn't mattered at all. Jamie is mature beyond her years or else I must be "young at heart" (LOL).

Jamie and Todd moved to San Antonio about five years ago but we've continued our friendship. They were celebrating their 16th wedding anniversary and ...do you know what they chose to do?

They ran a marathon in Tucson!

Now that's a true Fitness Friday gal. I even interviewed Jamie for Fitness Friday twice. You can read the posts here and here. She has five kids that she home schools and is in great shape. You need to find out ...her secret.

Since Jamie and Todd were flying into the Phoenix airport and renting a car to drive to Tucson for their race, they arranged to meet me for breakfast.

The Farm at South Mountain was the perfect place to meet. For anyone who is visiting Phoenix or who lives here, this is a fabulous "must see". They have several places to eat, a farmer's market, little shops, organic farming and an outdoor area to picnic and ...have fun with your kids.

We ate at The Morning Glory Cafe, which is outdoors. But we were so glad they had heaters and believe me, we chose a table close to one of them that morning.

Todd is a teaching leader in a men's class of Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) in the San Antonio area. If you ever have the opportunity to check out the BSF website, Todd's face is the photo on their video. And three of his kids attend also in their age group. Can you imagine that they are doing homiletics?

I was so excited to learn of some of the new changes in BSF. For the first time, they will be studying Isaiah this next year. The verse that sits right in front of me as I'm typing away on my computer is:

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

That Scripture has helped me through many a trying day, believe me. When I begin to fear, I look down at that verse and am reminded of how God is my strength.

Hmm ...as a graduate of BSF, I'm praying about whether to return next year.

I had such a fun time catching up with Todd and Jamie that morning. The kids are growing so fast. I was so excited to learn that their 15 year old son Braden read "Do Hard Things" after I interviewed Lexi who is another 15 year old. You can read that interview here, just in case you missed it. Lexi had shared about how much this book impacted her life. BTW, Lexi is Jill's daughter of Forever N Ever N Always and now Lexi has started a blog called Choosing to Wait.

Braden has decided to lead a study group of his teen friends through the "Do Hard Things" book.

I get so excited and hopeful for this next generation when I learn about teens like Braden and Lexi. Yay God!

I wanted to share one more photo before ending this post. Two of Jamie and Todd's daughters Mary Beth and Ellie performed at their Christmas piano recital. I can't believe how quickly they are growing and maturing. I met Ellie when she was only three years old and I remember when Mary Beth was born!

Again, I'm so thankful for the gift of friendship. I hope you'll come back as I continue to share this Christmas week. Our bloggy world seems to be a bit quiet as many bloggers are taking time to spend with their families. But I will be here!

Merry Christmas!


Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ Emmanuel

It's Then Sings My Soul Saturday when I link up with Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders.

I had the opportunity to watch a movie on TV yesterday called "The Perfect Gift". Emmanuel (You Are With Me) is from this movie and sung beautifully by Mark Smeby. The movie dealt with a broken family, "religion", people trying to take Jesus and the term Christmas out of this special day.

I don't know if Peggy of Amazing Grace will be joining us this week for TSMSS. But I wanted to say that she's been on my heart and on my mind. So, if you read this Peggy, know that I'm praying for you!

Christmas should be a time filled with joy because ...of the birth of our Savior.

But for many, it can also be a difficult time especially if they've experienced painful times and loss of loved ones.

My heart goes out to Melanie of Bella Mella and the loss of her precious son Andrew. So many have been praying for him.

And Loren of The Magoo News who just lost her dad after a long battle. We've been praying for him too.

Let us remember each one of them as this Christmas will be a difficult one for their families. I'm so thankful for the blogging community and how we can each encourage one another.


I'm At Laced With Grace

Today, I'm over at Laced with Grace.
What am I writing about?
Christmas Joy

Christmas Decorations at Rich Gifts Graphics & Blog Design for Christian Ministry

Merry Christmas to each one of you!

Blessings to you and your families,


Thankful Thursday ~ Gift

It's Thankful Thursday and Laurie of Women Taking A Stand is our host this month. Laurie is writing on the theme of gifts; using the gifts God has given to each one of us.

I'm thankful for the gift of encouragement. I love relationships with people and enjoy getting to know them better. However, sometimes the encourager needs encouragement. I feel blessed by the many friends who have walked beside me through the challenges in my life.

I'm thankful for the gift of writing. Although I'm certainly not an accomplished writer ... I enjoy it. I've journaled for years and have so many notebooks filled with writings. But blogging has become such a wonderful outlet for me. And in the process the Lord has brought many new friends into my life.

I'm thankful to be asked to write guest posts from time to time. Melissa Mashburn of Mel's World invited me to write in her series called Godly Gals. I have a post there today so I hope you'll take the time to ...visit her site.

However, the gift I'm most thankful for is ...the gift of Jesus.

Without Him, I don't know what I would do. He is my life line; the One I call on throughout my day. I'm learning that He is trustworthy and He is perfect love.

Throughout this Christmas season may your focus be on Jesus; the reason for the season.


What Happens on Facebook

What happens on Facebook can be kind of surprising at times!

But, I have to say I'm enjoying it. I've connected with so many of my cousins who I've not seen in years. And we all grew up together on Long Island.

I'm going to write more about it next week but just wanted to leave you with a teaser of what's to come!

That's my cousin Mark, me, cousin Linda and my brother Steve peeking out at you!
This is my cousin James who is the culprit. He unearthed all of the old slides and took lots of time to tag and post so many of them on Facebook. I'm actually having a ball looking at them and remembering the 1950's. So, thank you James.

Just so you know the relation. This is Grandma Haugli (my mother's mother), her brother (my Uncle Ivar) and my mom.

My cousins are Uncle Ivar's kids, now all grown up. There are five of them. And my brother Steve, my sister Christine and me made up our family. We had lots of good times growing up so I'll share more next week. It will be fun to see before and after photos of how they look today. :)

BTW, tomorrow I will be doing a guest post for Melissa on Mel's World. I was so honored to be asked to write for her Godly Gals Series. How's that for a contrast in topics? Facebook to Godly Gal; LOL.

I'm off to my annual Christmas Tea at the Phoenician Resort this afternoon. My friend Terri invites me every year and I love this time together. I'll try to post some photos as the resort is always beautifully decorated at Christmas.

Don't forget to visit Mel's World tomorrow. I'll post a direct link in the morning.

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