Heart Choices: January 2009

Theme Layout

Boxed or Wide or Framed

Theme Translation

Display Featured Slider

Featured Slider Styles

Display Grid Slider

Grid Slider Styles

Display Trending Posts

Display Author Bio

Display Instagram Footer

Dark or Light Style

Fitness Friday ~ Secrets to Weight Loss

It's Fitness Friday again and I'm so glad. Since I write a blog post on this topic each Friday, it helps to keep me on track and accountable. Since I'm sharing my knowledge with others, I'd better be practicing what I'm preaching.

I received a message from Sandy of God Speaks Today and she won't be joining us this week for Fitness Friday. A major storm hit her area of the country and there's a power outage. She sent me a message from Panera to let me know. So, say a prayer for Sandy and so many others who are being impacted by this storm. I'm going to link to her blog anyway because it's always fun to read any of Sandy's posts.

We all know that it can be easy to lose weight but it's so much harder to keep the weight off.
If a quick fix diet could keep the pounds off, we'd be spending less money as a society on weight loss. I read that approximately $40 billion is spent annually on weight loss. Now, that's a lot of money!

I thought I'd share a few secrets I learned about losing weight.

  • Soft drinks, frappacinnos and fruit juices are high in calories. Did you know that one glass of orange juice has two times the number of calories as a whole orange? So, why not eat an orange instead of drinking a glass of OJ ...and save calories. Start becoming aware of the amount of calories you're consuming in beverages. You know, it all adds up.
  • Eat fiber-rich and water-rich foods that will fill you up. When you cut back on calories, you get hungry. And if you get hungry enough, it's easy to throw in the towel and give up. But here's a tip. For breakfast (and yes, you should eat breakfast) switch from a typical sugar cereal to a bowl of hot oatmeal with fruit. It's fiber-rich so it will fill you up. And you'll be consuming at least 100 calories less each day. That could help you drop 10 pounds in a year!
  • Snack on healthy options like fruit and yogurt. If you cut out a 100 calorie cookie each day, you can shed 10 pounds in a year. Does that sound like a plan?
  • Spoil your appetite with a big salad or low calorie soup before your lunch and dinner. It's usually the salad dressings that contain high calorie counts so check the labels. But you can eat lots of lettuce and veggies and then you'll get filled up and not consume huge quantities of higher calorie foods.
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise! If you sit around and don't get moving, it's hard to burn off those calories. Did you know that if you walk an extra mile each day you'd lose 10 pounds in a year?
  • Work at managing your stress. There's a link between obesity, heart disease and your emotions. People who are physically inactive tend to be more depressed and then eat more and gain more weight. It can be a vicious cycle. So, get enough sleep and take time for friendships and loved ones. And remember that you don't always get to choose your circumstances but you can make the choice as to how you respond.

Remember it's not a diet ...but a lifestyle change. And it's got to be a plan you can live with or else you won't stick with it. So, hang in there and know that you're not alone.

How are you doing so far? Do you have any secrets to losing weight that you'd like to share? You know, we can all learn from each other.


Thankful Thursday ~ Security

Our theme for this week's Thankful Thursday is security. Lori of Lori's Reflections is our host again and you can find other participating sites to visit.

I don't know if it's just me but our latest Thankful Thursday themes have really hit home. I've had to sit back and reflect a bit. Maybe that's why I'm posting this a bit late in the day.

I want to be thankful. But there are times when I really have to make the choice to be thankful, especially when my circumstances are uncertain.

Uh oh, there's that control issue again! Will I ever learn?

I found this cartoon on Joyful Toons. It seemed to provide a great illustration of where my true security lies.

We may be dulled into thinking that our bank accounts, stock portfolios, home alarm systems or even our spouses provide all the security we need.

Or we may be expecting our government to supply all the solutions to make our lives secure.

But the reality is that ...they can't.

Circumstances may occur outside of their control. Just check out any newspaper or watch the latest news on TV. Life can become very uncertain and cause us to examine where who we're trusting for our security.

I'm so thankful that I can count on my relationship with Jesus as my true security. When life becomes uncertain, He knows all about it and isn't taken by surprise. He is my security.

Proverbs 18:10 says:

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are saved." (NIV)

Hebrews 6:19 says:

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." (NIV)

It doesn't mean life will always be easy and go my way. But I'm so thankful that He promises to "never leave me or forsake me". And for that, I am so thankful.

Where do you find your security? Who have you been trusting for your security? I encourage you to add your thoughts on this thankful Thursday.


Times of Refreshing

Times of refreshing are so important. In the busyness of life, how often do you take the time to simply sit and relax with friends?
Do you choose to take the time to celebrate the events in life that hold special significance?

I keep hearing the phrase "enjoy the moment" but it's easier said than done. When life is coming at you hard, do you make the choice to take a day off and simply have fun?

I had that opportunity yesterday. My good friend Terri invited me to a surprise brunch for her husband, Steve. After much time, thought and reflection, Steve recently made the decision to retire after a long and successful career. Terri invited her cousin Janet and me to join them in their celebration of this event.

I was so excited because the brunch would be held at T. Cook's Restaurant in the Royal Palms Hotel. This is a fabulous place and so beautiful. President Bush always preferred to stay at this hotel whenever he came to the Phoenix area.

Janet and I arrived early so we would be there to suprise Steve. He definitely was surprised and ...we had a great time of celebration.
I thought I'd share some of the photos I took with you.

This is the entrance to the hotel.

To get to T. Cook's Restaurant, I had to walk through an open courtyard.

It's really a beautiful time of year in Phoenix. The flowers are in bloom and the temperature is perfect in the high 60's to low 70's during the day. I know many of my blogging friends are still dealing with snow and cold temperatures. But hang in there, spring is coming!

Another outdoor courtyard with fountains.

This unique floral arrangement was delivered to our table for the guest of honor, Steve. Terri always seems to remember those special details.

This was my first course. Now, for my Fitness Friday friends, please notice the small portion sizes and the fruit. Very low in calories, Sandy!

But I have to admit, I had a hard time as the pastry chef brought out some freshly made goodies.

Oh no ...my resolve is going!

The lemon tarts and chocolate looked so tempting.

Take a quick look at this fabulous chocolate cake decorated with M&M's. I promise I only looked.

We even enjoyed live guitar music to add to the experience.

The Royal Palms is such a beautiful place to visit.

So, in the midst of these challenging times, do you take time to enjoy the moments? I'm thankful for my generous friend Terri for inviting me to this very elegant brunch. But even times of sitting by a lake or hiking a mountain can be a time of reflection and a moment to simply stop and enjoy! How do you get those times of refreshing?


Fitness Friday

It's Fitness Friday again! Sandy at God Speaks Today and I are joining forces so hop over to her blog when you're done reading. There's strength in numbers and I don't know about you but ...I can use all the help I can get.

To be fit and healthy takes time, energy and commitment.

So, let's encourage one another throughout this process. And accountability is a great way to help keep us on track.

As I considered a topic for this week, I kept coming back to the why's of getting fit. Because the answer to the "why?" question is so important. If you're losing weight for the wrong reasons, it's going to be hard to stay motivated, especially on those days when you're ready to throw in the towel and eat a box of bon-bons. You know what I mean. We've all had those days.

If the reason you're trying to lose weight is:

  • To please another person

  • To squeeze into a smaller size for a particular event

  • To look like the models in the fashion magazines

Forget about it because ...it won't last.

The goal should fous on getting healthy so you'll have more energy to do whatever God has called you to do.

If you're overweight and you're running after your little children ...it's hard to keep up.

And if you're a grandma, there's still much for you to do. Don't settle and assume that this is the way it's going to be from now on.

No matter what your age, it's never too late to get started.

Many times women will look at celebrities and models and want to look the same way. If you've never seen this video by Dove, it's worth the 1 minute and 15 seconds to watch. You'll find that the perfection you think you see ...really isn't so. No wonder so many young girls are developing eating disorders.

So, let's be realistic.

  • Yes ...you can begin to exercise.

  • Yes ...you can lose weight.

  • Yes ...you can begin to eat healthy.

But let's do it sensibly and for the right reasons. I don't know about you but when I'm in good shape and have lots of energy, I feel much better about interacting with other people.

And as a Christian, I know my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. So, I want to take care of my body.

So, what about you? Have you thought through the reasons you're participating in Fitness Friday? Or maybe this is your first time visiting. If you're ready to start taking better care of yourself, what is your main reason for doing this? I'd love to hear from you.

Sandy's Fitness Friday topic today is related to diet and the importance of eating from a variety of food groups, including fruit. I encourage you to take a moment to visit Sandy too.

Thankful Thursday ~ Prayer

Thankful Thursday is being hosted this week by my good friend Lori of Lori's Reflections. Our theme for this Thankful Thursday is prayer.

What a timely theme that is for me! With all of the challenges at this time in life, I wonder how anyone could get by without prayer. It's times like this that cause me to reflect and realize how dependent I am on God.

I have a confession to make. I like to be in control. My human nature likes to think I can make things happen. If I work hard and do the right things, then good things will happen. But it doesn't always work out that way. So much is outside of our control. I guess God uses challenges and circumstances to show me that He is the one in control. And so by faith, I need to place my trust in Him.

But the great part is that ...He is trustworthy.

And He invites me to come to Him and talk to Him. That's what prayer is ...talking to God.

I found the best cartoon to illustrate the concept of bringing my burdens to Him. Saija had posted this one on her blog and I loved it. Joyful Toons is a great resource.

So, on this Thankful Thursday, I want to encourage you to unburden your heart and pray. Pray for our country, President Obama, and the many people who are without work and in financial difficulties.

I'm so thankful that I don't have to carry all the burdens of the world on my shoulders. I can come before Almighty God and talk to Him and tell Him about my concerns and needs. And for that I am so thankful.

You can visit other blogs who are participating in Thankful Thursday by visiting Lori's Reflections.


Inauguration Day 2009

It’s Inauguration Day. America has voted and the people have made their choice.

No matter how you voted in this Presidential election, today is a day of anticipation. President Obama will be sworn-in with his right hand on Abraham Lincoln’s Bible and the invocation will be said by Reverend Rick Warren.

It reminds me of another Inauguration Day but this one was in 1993 and Bill Clinton was being sworn in. My hubby and I had the honor of receiving tickets to the much coveted Arkansas Inaugural Ball.

Neither of us had voted for Bill Clinton and we weren’t from Arkansas. But my husband received the tickets from a friend who I guess had “connections”.

Anyhow, we'd never been to an event like this so …off we went to Washington DC.

There was an air of excitement in Washington DC that cold wintery day. We stood outside during the swearing-in ceremony and listened to Maya Angelo recite her poem that became quite famous.
We even watched as former President George H. Bush and his wife took off in a helicopter. And we sadly waved goodbye.

For me, the most exciting part of the inaugural festivities was the Inaugural Ball. Greg and I were all dolled up in our formal attire with our tickets in hand.

We had to go through a full security screening and this was well before 9/11.

Official photos were taken. Greg is not that much taller than me but this photo makes him look so much taller.

Everywhere I looked there were celebrities and musicians like Kenny Loggins, Carol King, Michael Bolton, Tony Bennett and Chuck Berry. Chuck rocked the place with his music and we all danced. The newly elected President Clinton played his sax. All of the major national TV stations were represented by their top commentators surrounding the ball room. It certainly was a night to remember.

Fast forward from 1993 to 2009. Few things have changed on Inauguration Day. The number of inaugural balls has decreased significantly. I’m glad I had the opportunity to go when I did. Who knows when I’d have another opportunity?

Although government can’t solve all of our country’s problems, I will pray for President Obama and the incoming administration. I believe it is a pivotal time in our country’s history. I pray that the right decisions will be made.

And I pray that God will continue to bless our country!

Who Do You Trust?

When life is good and things are going smoothly, it's easy to say you trust God.

But have you ever been in the midst of challenging circumstances that were outside of your control?

Today I'm over at Laced with Grace. Come and visit me there to read the rest of this post on "Who do you trust?"...

If you haven't entered the fabulous January giveaway on Laced with Grace, it might be a great time to do that ...while you're there. All you need to do to enter is to add a comment. The giveaway ends January 31 so don't miss out. The prize is a complete DVD Bible study called "Living the Gospel in Relationships" by Tara Barthel.

See you at Laced with Grace.

Fitness Friday

It's Friday, so it must be Fitness Friday. If you missed my post last Friday, I approached Sandy at God Speaks Today because I love reading her Fitness Friday posts. Sandy's a freelance writer on health and fitness and my background is cardiovascular nursing. So, I thought we could each offer our unique perspectives. So, don't forget to drop by Sandy's Fitness Friday post too.

If you want to get fit or lose weight, would you ask someone who is overweight for advice? I doubt it. Wouldn't you want to talk to someone who is successful and could share their tips and advice about living a healthy lifestyle?

Jamie is a 30 something friend of mine. She's a wife and mother of five children who range in age from 4 months to 14 years old. She home schools all her kids and wow; are they smart! And by the way, did I mention that Jamie runs one or two marathons a year and is in great shape?

Now, don't think she's a Stepford Wife. (I don't know if you're old enough to remember that movie about wives that were made into robots so they could become the perfect wife.) Well, that's definitely not Jamie! She'd be the first one to say that she makes her share of mistakes and learns along the way.

Since I don't have children and many of you are moms, I thought it might be helpful to find out what works for a busy mom who wants to stay in shape and be healthy. So, I emailed Jamie a few questions. She wrote back the same day with her answers. How's that for being organized?

I'm not going to share all of her tips because this post would be much longer. So, I'll save some of them for another time. But here are a few of her tips and ideas:

  • Jamie mentioned priorities and time management on the top of her list. She makes time for what is important and "daily exercise and prayer are at the top". I loved reading how she organizes her home so each child knows what's expected of them. Hmmm ...very wise.

  • Jamie has established the best time for her to exercise. In her case, the afternoons work best. She assigns the older children to rotate caring for the younger toddlers and babies while she exercises.

  • She incorporates variety into her exercise regimen. One day she might jog on the treadmill or do an aerobic video. The kids sometimes exercise alongside Mom. There are days when a formal workout isn't feasible. So, Jamies tries to incorporate some kind of exercise into her day, like roller skating around the driveway, jumping on the trampoline with the kids or simply walking briskly to get the mail. She gives herself the freedom to miss a day now and then and not feel guilty about it.

  • She sets a goal of running one or two races a year. She writes that it helps her to work towards something and then to be able to celebrate when she completes it. (Love this!)

  • Jamie tapes a picture of herself running her last half marathon on her bathroom mirror. It's a great reminder of how good she felt after completing the race with her husband Todd and the kids cheering her on.

  • Jamie and Todd sometimes even plan their family vacations around a race. The children are encouraged to participate. Braden is 14 years old and he's on his dad's cycling team. He often does 30 mile training rides with the men and occasionally joins in a race with his dad.
Here's six year old Mary. She received a medal for a tandem bike race. Way to go, Mary!

In the life of this busy family, exercising and a healthy lifestyle are just a part of their normal routine. Jamie says that "for our children, it is just how we live and a part of who we are".

I love how Jamie and Todd lead and teach by example. It's one thing to tell kids what to do but ...it's so much better to live it out in front of them. And the whole family has fun doing it together.

Now, maybe your family isn't quite as active but don't despair. It's never too late to get started even with small changes to work towards a healthier family lifestyle.

So, now how about you? How do you fit in time for exercise for yourself particularly if you have children? Do you exercise together?

Don't forget to visit Sandy for her Fitness Friday post too.

Thankful Thursday ~ Possibilities

It's thankful Thursday and the theme for this week is ...possibilities.

When I checked Iris' blog to find out what the theme for this week would be, I have to admit that my first impression was to groan inside. You see, I'm in a place right now where I don't know what the future holds. And I like to know what's going to happen. But I guess that's part of walking by faith.

Abraham was called by God to leave what was familiar and to venture out on a journey of faith in obedience. I'm sure that was scary for him. But he obeyed since Genesis 12:4 says "So Abram left, as the LORD had told him."

I have repeatedly written on Heart Choices that we don't always choose our circumstances, but ...we can choose how we respond.

I guess I need to practice what I preach. That's the hard part. I find it easy to learn and have the head knowledge. But that knowledge needs to move down to my heart so ...I can apply it to my life.

So, on this thankful Thursday, I choose to embrace possibilities.

Do I know where I'm going? Not yet. But I'm thankful that God knows where He will take me. And that's good enough for me.

How about you? Do you embrace possibilities or do you stay in your comfort zone?

I encourge you to check other blogs who participated in thankful Thursday. You can find them on Grace Alone.


American Idol Is Back!

American Idol is back! Season 8 began in Phoenix and since that's where I live ...I had to watch. I haven't been a fan of the show since the beginning. But my dad enjoys watching it and sharing his opinions. So now, my hubby and I tune in.

They've added a new judge this season. Her name is Kara DioGuardi and I have to admit that I'd never heard of her. She's a singer and a song writer. I'm sure I'd recognize some of her songs but I don't remember seeing her before.

Why choose to audition for American Idol? Well, the contestants obviously believe they have talent and can sing. Some were encouraged by their family and friends. Others seemed to want to be on the stage in front of a huge audience and be noticed. In today's society, it seems to be about having their 30 seconds of fame which is sad to me.

There were several contestants who stood out to me from last night's show. I thought the bikini gal was kind of sad. It was a singing contest and she auditioned in a very tiny bikini and certainly got noticed. She's only 20 years old and I kept wondering what her parents might be thinking or ...did they care? So many young women use their bodies to get what they want. It's a very revealing insight into our world's values.

But two of the contestants stood out in a good way for me. One was 23 year old Scott McIntyre of Scottsdale. He is almost completely blind and yet he chooses to not allow his disability to hold him back. He plays the piano beautifully and I thought he had a great voice. It reminded me of Jennifer Rothschild, a Christian speaker, author and singer. Jennifer went completely blind as a teenager and has not allowed her blindness to hold her back from being about the work God has called her to do. People like this inspire me!

The second contestant that stood out to me was 16 year old Arianna Afjor. She won me over when she talked about how she organized a group of teens to sing at the local nursing homes. As a nurse, I know how lonely and difficult it can be for older people in nursing facilities and for a teen to take time to do this, well she's OK in my book.

So, what did you think about American Idol? Who stood out to you from last night's show? Would you choose to allow your son or daughter to audition if they had talent to sing?

How Patient Are You?

How patient are you? In our fast paced society, it seems to be instant everything. Who needs to wait for anything?

See something you want? Buy it with your credit card. Are you hungry? Simply nuke your meal in the microwave or go to one of the fast food places in your area of town. Missed a show on TV? Watch it online.

Did you know that we used to have to actually get up and turn a nob on the television to switch to a different channel? There were no remote controls.

And there was something called layaway? If you wanted to buy something but you didn't have the full amount, you paid if off slowly but you only got to take the item home ...after it was paid in full. Imagine that?

Consider the following questions:

Do you get discouraged and give up after eating and exercising for one week just because ...you only lost one pound?

Have you tried to read a book but get distracted by all the other things you have to do?

Have you prayed for something and not yet received an answer?

We don't always get to see instant results. After all, some things take time and ...patience on our part.

So, how patient are you?

  • Are you willing to wait for something?
  • Or have you grown so accustomed to having things right now in your timing and in your own way?
  • Do you have any examples that you might share?
  • Have you learned anything from having to wait for something?

Are You Teachable?

Are you teachable? Or do you think you aleady know just about everything you need to know?

After all, you've gone to college. Or maybe you've just learned in the school of hard knocks. You've had a lifetime of lessons.

Maybe you feel you're just too old to learn. After all, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Life can be hard. Maybe there are circumstances in your life that you never asked for. Other people's choices may have impacted you and shaped your perception and way of looking at life in general.

Maybe you've been hurt in the past and so ...now it's hard for you to trust or be open. You close your heart because you don't ever want to feel pain like that again. But I wonder ...are you missing out on good things by not being willing to be open to learn?

I remember hearing my pastor encouraging us to be life long learners and that intrigued me. I love to learn new things but I don't always apply what I learn. Head knowledge is one thing but ...heart knowledge is another.

The focus of Heart Choices is how our day to day choices will determine what our tomorrows will become.
If you're not satisfied with where you are today, would you consider examining the choices you make? After all, if you keep doing the same things ...you'll end up with the same result. Maybe it's time to learn a few new skills.

Think about children. When your child is learning to walk, they stumble and fall continuously. A fellow blogger posted a video of her little girl learning to walk. She would take an unsteady step, waver a bit and then fall down. But did she give up? No way! Up she went trying again ...along with her mom and sister's encouragement.

When little Mary was learning to ride her bike without training wheels, it took a time of falling again and again. But with encouragement from her big brother Braden she finally succeeded. And then when Braden was learning to dance he wasn't Fred Astaire overnight. It takes practice and time to learn new skills.

My blogging friend L-Jay of My Little Norway writes about adjusting to life in a new country. She's from Australia but she married a Norwegain who lives near the Arctic Circle. She had to learn a new language which isn't easy. She takes language classes to learn and she must practice every day. I'm sure she feels ackward at times but she's persistent because she made the choice to follow her husband.

Maybe you've set a few new goals for yourself in 2009? After all, it's a new year and a new opportunity to make some new choices.
Consider the following questions:
  • Are there some new skills that you might need to learn to accomplish your goal?
  • Are there people who might encourage you?
  • Is there someone who will help to keep you accountable?
  • Are there resources you can tap to learn a new skill to help you?

I'd love to hear from you. Are you teachable? What steps will you take to make new choices that will help you grow in body, mind and spirit?


Introducing Fitness Friday

I’m so excited to join Sandy at God Speaks Today in a weekly Fitness Friday.

Now some of you may already be familiar with Sandy's blog but I only recently came to know her. And let me tell you, she's a pistol. Sandy is funny, a great writer, a Christian, a wife and mother ... and is greatly interested in health and fitness. I found myself looking forward to reading her Fitness Friday blog posts.

As you know, the focus of Heart Choices is how our day to day choices determine what our tomorrows will become. And I believe it’s important to address body, mind and spirit.

It's a new year and …everyone seems to be talking about losing a few pounds or starting to eat healthier or beginning to exercise.

So, I asked Sandy if I could participate in her Fitness Friday's. She was so gracious and open to making this happen. Thank you, Sandy!Sandy and I come from different and yet similar backgrounds.

I come from a medical background as cardiovascular nurse. I’ve dealt with people who either had heart disease or were at high risk for heart related problems. I worked with them and taught them to make healthier lifestyle choices.

Sandy is a freelance writer who describes herself as a health nut and fitness buff. One of the reasons Sandy is motivated to take care of her health is because her mother had her first heart attack at the age of 54 and died at 70. She also wants to teach her children a healthy way to live.

My family history includes heart disease too. My paternal grandfather died of a sudden heart attack. My dad had his first heart attack when he was in his early 60's. He's had numerous procedures since then including coronary artery bypass surgery, pacemaker, and even a defibrillator. He's just like the bionic man! My family history motivates me to eat healthy and to exercise.

Both Sandy and I want to be healthy, keep our weight in check and have energy and vitality. I know when I’m feeling good and have energy; I find I’m more open to interacting with others. I can be about the work that God has called me to do.

So, if you’re at a point in your life where you want to get serious about taking care of your health, check in with Sandy and me on Friday’s. I’ve had a preview of her post and she makes some great points about being realistic and getting past a weight loss plateau. I encourage you to visit her blog God Speaks Today.

How about you? Have you made any new decisions about taking better care of your health? Do you have specific areas of concern? Have you had trouble sticking with an exercise program? How about eating healthier? I’d love to hear any suggestions you may offer.

Thankful Thursday ~ Our Uniqueness

It's Thursday ...so for me, it's another thankful Thursday. I'm a little late in posting this one. You see, I just returned from attending a memorial service for my dear friend, Georgia. I'm so thankful for Georgia. You can read another post where I wrote about the impact she had on my life.

It gave me pause to think about how thankful I am that each one of us has been created with our own unique qualities and abilities. And one isn't better than the other. We're each different and unique in our own way. I think that is so cool!

Maybe you are:

  • a wonderful hostess
  • a leader who can make things happen
  • a peaceful and quiet person
  • a great speaker and communicator
  • a loyal friend
  • a fun person who is the life of the party
  • a planner who attends to details
  • a smart person who is great at debating

Each one of us has gifts and abilities that are unique to us. I'm so thankful that we're not all alike. Even my fellow bloggers are different.

  • When I want to sing Norwegian songs, I know I can visit Felisol.
  • When I want to laugh, I can visit Pensieve.
  • When I want to learn how to improve my diet and not take life for granted, I visit Meg.
  • When I want to grow spiritually, I visit Jill.
  • When I want to learn more about the blogosphere and friendship, I visit Lori.

So, on this thankful Thursday I just want to celebrate and be thankful for our uniqueness. I hope you'll take the time to visit other blogs who participated this week at Grace Alone.


Laced With Grace Giveaway ~ January

I wanted to announce the January giveaway at Laced with Grace. If you've never visited this blog, I would highly recommend you check it out. It's a great place to receive encouragement, read devotionals and interact with other women.

The January giveaway is a DVD series called "Living the Gospel in Relationships" by Tara Barthel. Lori of Lori's Reflections recently had the opportunity to interview the author Tara. You can read that interview on Laced with Grace.

To be eligible for this giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment on the Laced with Grace post or any of the other daily devotionals written by the team. You can enter every day up until January 31st. The winner will be announced on February 1st. The DVD series includes 8 teaching sessions that last about 40 minutes and five study guide/journals.

I'm also very excited and honored that I've been asked to contribute a monthly post to Laced with Grace. I hope you'll check out my profile page on Laced with Grace.


New Year's Resolutions

Happy 2009! Do you make New Year's resolutions? Or are you one of those people who doesn't like to set goals? After all, it's so hard to keep them.

I remember hearing Zig Ziglar say that if you don't set any goals to work towards, you're a ...wandering generality.

I never used to set goals until I got married 24 years ago. You see, my husband is a goal setter. On our first New Year's Day together, he asked me about my goals for the year. I looked at him and said something like "Honey, I don't know. I guess I'll just have to see what happens." No wonder things weren't quite happening. I really didn't know where I was going besides getting married.

Setting goals is one thing ...but achieving your goals is another.

Taking the time to write down your goals, along with a plan of action will increase your likelihood of success. I think people get discouraged because they don't seem to stick with their goals beyond a few weeks. So, why bother setting yourself up for failure?

I pulled out a performance planner I purchased years ago through the Zig Ziglar Organization. Glancing through the pages, I realized how much time, effort and thought I had given to this process.

The sections for creating and achieving my goals included the following:

  • Create a wild idea sheet. This is fun! All you do is take a sheet of paper and let your imagination go wild. You print everything you want to be, do and have. Don't think it through; just write it down quickly. They say that printing it frees your creative right brain to use your imagination. I don't know how scientific that is but my page was filled.

  • Wait at least 24-48 hours and then go back to your wild idea sheet. Ask yourself "why?" beside each item that you wrote down. This helps to eliminate the frivolous items on your list.

  • Take your wittled down list of goals and list the benefits you will obtain from reaching that goal. I ended up with six goals that I worked on that year.

  • List the obstacles you need to overcome.

  • List the skills or knowledge you may need to acquire to reach them.

  • List any people, groups or organizations that might help you.

  • List steps for a plan of action to reach your goals.

I was amazed to read through my lists and realized that I actually achieved five out of the six goals I had set for that year. And the areas of my life I covered were physical, finances, relationships, spiritual and career growth.


My friend Lori of Lori's Reflections posted her New Year's Meditations in place of resolutions. I hope you'll check her site where you can find links to other blogs who also participated.

This year my list includes three areas, just like the focus of Heart Choices; body, mind and spirit.

Body: My goal is to work on my flexibility and strength. I work out aerobically but as you get older you lose muscle mass and flexibility. I also want to add more fiber and vegetables to my diet and to eat smaller portion sizes.

Mind: My goal is to focus on my writing. Blogging has been such a creative outlet for me. I rediscovered my love for writing.

Spirit: My goal is to grow in my relationship with the Lord. I am currently studying the book of Hebrews. Learning to enter the rest of God has been a struggle for me. My flesh gets in the way.

How about you? How do you want to grow in 2009? As you reflect back on 2008, are there some areas of your life that you'd like to change going forward? Do you write down your goals? I'd love to hear from you.

[name=DEBBIE PETRAS] [img=http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2CDrwq9-7eo/WV6tdbP-QgI/AAAAAAACfb0/ViqQSnSVaDsMLXyz3AEEzZ5-78luBHOGgCK4BGAYYCw/s1600/Debbie%2BFace%2Bblog.JPG] [description=]