Heart Choices: February 2009

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Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my dad's 80th birthday! Happy Birthday Dad!

I used to love the fact that my birthday was on the first day of February and my dad's was on the last day. That is as long as it wasn't ...Leap Year!

I asked my dad if he had any advice about living to the age of 80 and he laughed and said ...don't get into trouble.

Since I won't be able to go to Florida to join my family in the celebration, I thought I'd write a blog post in honor of his special day.

My dad was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His parents were both born in Norway.

My parents met in church as teenagers and married in 1950. They spent their first married night together at the Plaza Hotel in NYC.

Here's my dad with me and my brother Steve.

Dad always made a great Santa Claus. At least he fooled us when we were younger.

Oh my gosh, check out those hair styles and clothes! Christmas with the family; Dad, Debbie, Christine, Steve and Mom

My mom and dad were very active in the Sons of Norway.

My dad's favorite car is a Corvette. I actuallly had this red one when I was single! When I decided to move to Arizona, my dad drove out with me in this car. My dad and I were always pretty close. I always found it easy to talk to him.

This picture was taken in Norway, one of Dad's favorite places to visit.

Dad's father came from Sumstad, Norway. He took the name of the town when he moved to America. That was a common custom. My parents loved visiting the family farm in Sumstad, Norway.

One year both my dad and I were having trouble at the same time. He had surgery on his knee and I tore ligaments in my ankle. We looked funny hobbling around but it didn't stop us from going to San Diego.

My dad took good care of my mom as she became more fragile and sick. They were married almost 55 years when she died.

Several years later, my dad was fortunate to meet Shari and they got married.

Here is Dad holding a Norwegian almond ring cake that one of his friends made for the newlyweds

Here's Dad and Shari with granddaughters Katie and Kristin

So Dad, although I can't be with you on your 80th birthday, I hope you know how much you're loved and appreciated.

Happy Birthday Dad!


An Audience of One

During my early morning quiet time, I read from a devotional called "Streams in the Desert". I can't tell you how many times the day's reading was exactly what I needed to hear.

This is what I read:

"Do the most everyday and insignificant tasks knowing that God can see."

How easy it is to feel that my day to day activities and tasks are unimportant? Does anyone see or care?

Well, God does see and He knows exactly what I'm doing ...or not doing every minute of every day. And He can see into my heart.

Not only doesn He see what I'm doing but more importantly ...He knows my motives for doing what I'm doing. There's no fooling Him!

It tends to change my perspective when I remember this.
So even if I spend my day doing dishes and cleaning toilets, I can do it with the right attitude. Sometimes, I even begin to sing or ...maybe just hum a tune as I'm doing my work.

If I'm in the yard tending to the flowers, I can be thankful for their beauty. I notice little things like the hummingbird that has wandered into my yard.

When I'm sitting at my computer, I can reach out to other bloggers who may be going through a difficult time or have a sick child. I'm amazed at how God brings new people into my life each day. I'm so thankful for these special opportunities to get to know other women.

I've written out a few Bible verses that I keep within my sight at my computer to remind me of who my audience really is.

When I take this perspective, everything seems different. The ordinary and mundane are just fine with me.

How about you? Do you remind yourself who your audience really is?

A Little Help From My Friends

Have you ever felt like this? Overloaded, overwhelmed and ...very distracted?

That's kind of how I'm feeling right now. And I don't like it at all!

When I feel like this, it's hard for me to focus on what I need to do.

Writing has become such a wonderful outlet for me. But I've even been struggling with that lately. I can't tell you how many drafts of posts I've written in the last two days alone.
So, what's a girl to do?

I think I need a little help from my friends!

That reminds me of a Beatles song:

"What would you do if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me.
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
And I'll try not to sing out of key.
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,
I get high (NOT REALLY!) with a little help from my friends,
Oh I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends."

Blogging friends, what do you do when you feel overwhemed and distracted?

Do you ever struggle with your writing?

Or when life gets tough, do you find writing a help?

I'd really like to know how you deal with this. Can I get a little help from my friends? Thank you!

Remembering My Mom

My mom died four years ago today. Instead of being sad, I want to remember all of the good times we had and treasure them in my heart. This photo was taken on her last birthday; her 75th. I was so glad I was able to celebrate that day with she and my dad.

My friend Terri always reminds that my mom now has another birthday; the day she graduated from this earth and went to Heaven. That comforts me because ...I know I'll see her again.
I'd like to share a few pictures with my blogging friends.

This photo was taken in Norway. My mom and dad loved to visit Norway as this is where all of their relatives originated from.

She loved her Norwegian cousins and enjoyed spending time with them.

She loved to do needlepoint, knitting and crocheting. She was always doing something with her hands. I didn't inherit this from her.

She loved to ride horses. When my dad and she were dating, they used to go horse back riding. I had the opportunity to take lessons with her many years ago.
This photo shows off two of my mom's talents. She was first of all ...a clown, alway joking. And second of all, she was an excellent piano player. She played by ear and could listen to a song and then sit down and play it. I took lessons as a kid but was never very good at it.

My mom had such fun taking Greg's car for a spin.
She worked in the medical field most of her life. I think that was another reason I became a nurse.

One of her favorite roles was that of Grandma

She loved to dance, especially those Norwegian folk dances!

Mom loved to walk the beach. Here she is with my sister Christine on Clearwater Beach, Florida.

I've been blessed with a wonderful mother and for that I'm so grateful. She loved the Lord and that love ...overflowed to all the people in her life.

Thank you Mom!


Fitness Friday ~ Fitness Basics

On this Fitness Friday, Sandy of God Speaks Today and I will be sharing some basics about getting in shape and establishing a healthier lifestyle.

Remember, it's not about a diet or quick weight loss formula. It's about beginning to establish healthy lifestyle habits that you can live with from now on.

This takes time but ...it's well worth the effort.

I guarantee that you'll feel better, have more energy and your clothes will fit and look so much better. And that's a good thing!

Sometimes it's just good to review a few basics.

An exercise program should include:

5-10 minutes of warm-up exercise like stretching
  • 30-60 minute aerobic (cardio) that might include an activity like running, walking, bicycling or swimming.

  • 5-10 minutes of cooling down such as stretching

  • Strength training exercises at least three times a week
Here are a few key points to remember:
  • Endurance exercise is the best type of exercise to get your body burning fat. As your fitness level improves, your body is able to burn greater amounts of fat.

  • Exercise burns calories. If you walked 40-60 minutes or jogged 30 minutes you would burn about 300-500 calories. If you did this three times a week, you would lose about a pound of fat in three weeks simply by exercising.

  • If you combine exercise with a reduction in calories you will lose weight quicker. By only cutting out 100 calories (one cookie) and exercising three times a week, you could lose one pound in two weeks or 20-30 pounds a year.

  • Exercising before a meal will help decrease your appetite.

  • Don't eat before exercising. After you eat, blood is diverted to your stomach to digest your food. That reduces the amount of blood and oxygen that's available to other muscles. The exception would be a diabetic who might have a small snack since exercise reduces the blood sugar.

  • Drink lots of water! Living in Phoenix, Arizona I've learned about this. We have to drink even more water than other parts of the country because of the desert and no humidity. Drink water before, during and even after exercising.

  • Wear the right clothes when you exercise. Wear loose fitting clothing in hot weather. In cold temperatures, be sure to protect your head to help contain body heat. Layered clothing is great because then you can peel off layers after warming up.

  • To get the most benefit, exercise on a regular basis. Did you know that once you stop exercising consistently, half of your endurance improvement is lost within 12 weeks? After all that hard work, don't lose the benefits you've gained.

So, hang in there and let's encourage one another as we focus on the goal. Establishing habits that you can live with for the long term is so important.

If you have any other pointers or simply want to offer encouragement, I hope you'll leave a comment.

And don't forget to visit Sandy at God Speaks Today. Sandy's the originator of Fitness Friday's and she's going to offer you a challenge. She also has a few tips to help you establish exercise as a habit.


Rest for the Weary

Do you find yourself so tired trying to do the 'right things'? Do you feel burdened with responsibilities?

I don't know about you but I don't want to miss out on what God has for me in this season of my life. I don't want to be too busy doing my own thing that seems to be good and ...miss out on His best.

Today I'm over at Laced with Grace. I encourage you to link there to find the secret about how to find rest for your weary soul.


Book Lover

I'm a serious book lover! I admit it.

My love of books began as a young child. Before the age of seven, I led a very sedentary life because of a congenital heart defect. Since I wasn't able to run and keep up with the other children my age ... I often sat and read.

Not long ago Lisa of Family Life awarded me the Bookworm Award. You're supposed to grab the closest book to you and say what it is.

Well, as I'm sitting at my computer the closest book to me is "Streams in the Desert". It's a daily devotional that provides words of comfort, encouragement, hope and strength from the Scriptures. It was a gift from my good friend Helen since I was going through a difficult time.

But I have to admit that ...I have a book problem.

Just take a look at this picture of the closet in my office. I converted this closet into bookshelves. And this is just one side of the closet. The other side is packed full of books too. I hate to admit it but this is how it looked after I picked out lots of books to sell.

You see, I need to downsize.

So, I decided to have a book sale at my house. I sent invitations to many of my friends and I got the house ready.

Not too many people showed up. I guess they have lots of their own books and didn't need more. I understand!

Here are a few photos from my book sale.

Thank you Sue, Barb, Chris, Helen, Anna May and Jack!

I didn't realize how many cookbooks I had accumulated.

I really do love to cook but I doubt I've used all of these cookbooks!

I also have lots of Christian books and I didn't even begin to touch my health and fitness books.

So, if you live in the Phoenix area and are looking for some good books, email me. I'll make you a good deal!

If anyone has had experience selling books online, please leave a comment and tell me of your experience.

I would also love to hear from other book lovers. Maybe I need to do a bloggy giveaway. After all, I also have a few brand new healthy eating cookbooks.


Fitness Friday ~ Healthy Family Lifestyle

Today is Fitness Friday! My Fitness Friday partner Sandy at God Speaks Today is back in business. Last week, her part of the country experienced a major power outage. But Sandy's back and I'm so glad to link to her.

Many of you are moms with busy lifestyles. Since I don’t have children, I interviewed my good friend Jamie to discover some of her secrets to living and modeling a healthy lifestyle.

After all, she’s fit and healthy. She’s a wife and mother to five children ranging in age from 4 months to 14 years old. And did I mention that she also home schools?

I wrote Part 1 of this interview on a previous post. If you’ve not read that, you may want to link there first.

Jamie runs at least one or two marathons a year. Do you remember the photo of her running that she tapes to her mirror? It reminds her of how good it felt to cross the finish line of this race.

Although she tries to model healthy eating habits in her home, she admits that she’s far from perfect.

But here are a few of the tips she shared:

  • Sugars and processed foods are kept to a minimum.

  • She does not purchase candy, soda or chips.

  • Oatmeal, granola and wheat bread are staples.

  • Snacks include pretzels and low fat/sugar peanut butter and jelly.

  • Lunch includes fresh veggies and fruit on the side.

  • Her family tends to eat five smaller portion meals/snacks each day.

  • Dinner is not a huge meal unless they have company.

Jamie mentioned that her son doesn’t like to drink water and gravitates towards sweets. The pediatrician suggested that they all drink a glass of water before sitting down to eat a meal so they wouldn’t eat as much. Hmm …that’s good advice for adults too. It also helps with hydration and digestion.

Do you ever feel like a short order cook in your house?

Don't do it. Jamie’s children have learned to eat whatever is served. She doesn’t cater to the likes and dislikes of each child but doesn’t purposely make things she knows someone hates.

I remember my mother doing that too. We learned to like certain foods over time even if they weren’t our favorites. If the kids don’t eat their lunch or dinner, they do not get a snack later.

Trying to manage and cook healthy meals for a family requires some planning.

Jamie has put together a spreadsheet with all the grocery items in her kitchen. All of the commonly used foods are listed in grouped sections like dairy, veggies, breads, canned goods, and household items. Using this list helps make her grocery shopping go faster and easier and she avoids extra trips for those forgotten items.

Jamie spends Sunday evenings planning the family’s dinner and lunch meals for the week. She tries to keep it simple so she doesn’t have to spend too much time in the kitchen. Another spreadsheet consists of all the meals that she likes to fix for quick reference.

Well, I don’t know about you but ...I was pretty impressed with her organized system.

Not everyone is so organized but I think we can all learn something from this busy mom.

Now what about you? Do you have any tips or suggestions that have helped you maintain a healthy lifestyle for your family?

And by the way, don't forget to visit Sandy at God Speaks Today. She's written a great post about the mental aspect of fitness. Maybe you've made a commitment to get fit but you're having some trouble sticking with it. Well, you need to hop over to Sandy's Fitness Friday post to read some of her great tips.

Thankful Thursday ~ Love

It's Thankful Thursday and this week our hostess Iris has chosen the theme love.

I'm so glad. Love is a subject I could write about every day. Valentine's Day only comes once a year but ...I'd love to celebrate it all year long. I'm such a romantic!

In the Bible, the book of 1 Corinthians 13 is all about love. It's often quoted during wedding ceremonies. What do I learn about love from these passages?

I learn that:
  • If I'm gifted with many talents

  • Give all I have to the poor

  • Suffer terribly in my body

  • Have an abundance of knowledge to share

But if I don't have love ...I gain nothing.

I can be "doing" all the right stuff but if my motive isn't love then it really doesn't matter. I might be able to fool myself but God knows my heart. I can't hide from Him.

The verses go on to say what love is and how it's seen in action. Phrases like love is patient, kind, does not boast, is not rude, or self-seeking, or easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs.

As I thought about love, it became easier to write my thankful Thursday list. Instead of focusing on all of the problems and irritations in life, I choose to focus on remembering the good and kind and lovely. And for that, I'm truly thankful.

I'm thankful for:
  • God's love that lives in my heart and enables me to love even difficult people. Remember, I'm a work in progress but He is teaching me to do this even though ...there are times when I fail miserably.

  • My husband's love that has been growing so much more as we go through a challenging time in life.

  • My family's love and support.

  • Ruth who emails me words of encouragement every week.

  • Debra of Clothed With Scarlet who reached out to me this week in a very precious way even though we've never met face to face.

My friend Helen, who along with her husband John and grandson Joseph, took the time to drive the long distance to attend church with me and take me to lunch on my birthday.

  • Friends Terri and Janet who extended the fun and splurged on a birthday celebration at Lon's at the Hermosa. We ate on the patio surrounded by the beauty of the Arizona desert.

  • Sue and Barb who consistently keep in touch with me and meet for coffee at Einstein Brothers Bagels to offer encouragement.

  • My friend Robyn who I've known since the second grade. I sat behind her in class and she helped me learn to write in script. She's so consistent in sending cards and emails.

  • My friend Kathy who doesn't like email too much but stays in touch with me by phone. I've known Kathy since 7th grade and we recently had the opportunity to spend time together after many years apart.

  • My brother-in-law Frank who has gone out of his way to help get our house ready to sell.

  • My mentor Susie who offered to drive me to our Group of 12 luncheon today so we could spend time talking along the way.
It's amazing!

When I choose to take the time to focus on all that I can be thankful for and to remember the many people who've demonstrated love in action ...my perspective changes.

Worry and fear are replaced with ...love and contentment in all circumstances.

On this thankful Thursday will you choose to take the time to write a thankful list? And don't forget to add a comment and share something you're thankful for today.

You can visit other blogs participating in thankful Thursday by linking here.

Bloggy Love

Mom Blogs

February is the LOVE MONTH. And I want to celebrate with some bloggy love!

5 Minutes For Mom is hosting a blog carnival called Say it FORWARD. It's a time when you can say thank you to your loyal commenters.

I know that many people enjoy reading blogs but many never comment. Now don't get me wrong. I'm glad for the people who are faithful to read but ...it's really so nice to know someone is listening!

This past Sunday I was reading one of my favorite blogs Just Another Day in Paradise. I added a comment and refreshed my page and voila ...I saw this post with my picture on it. What a pleasant surprise! Thank you Kate. And I hope you take the time to visit her blog. I plan to write a bit more about it next week.

I want my first Say it Forward post to highlight and thank my new friend, Lori of Lori's Reflections. Lori was one of the first bloggers I made friends with online. I know for some ...the internet can be a scary place to make friends. Of course, we need to always be careful but I've been blessed with some wonderful new friends in the blogosphere. And it's come at a time when I'm working at home so I'm not free to be out and about doing lunch and shopping with my friends.

Lori and I met when Darren Rowse, who is a full time blogger from Australia, had a social fest on ProBlogger. He encouraged bloggers to add a comment and to list their blog names, twitter and Facebook profiles. Bloggers had the opportunity to find people to connect with who might have common interests. The day I participated I ended up with more friends than I ever had in my entire life. However, only a few continued to keep coming back and one of those was Lori.

Lori is a wife and mother to three growing boys. Lots of testosterone in their home, I'm sure. She grew up in Arizona (too bad I didn't meet her then) but now lives in Florida. Hmm ...I even lived in Florida for a few years. You can read more about her here. She graduated from college with a degree in communications.

When I first started using Twitter, she would send me a message after reading something I posted. I remember the day Sarah Palin was invited to be Senator John McCain's running mate, Lori and I twittered back and forth. And when one of my dear friends was dying, Lori was immediately there for me with words of comfort.

Lori writes book reviews and even got to interview Rebecca St. James! She writes a weekly post called "Looking Back" and highlights things she's read and learned during the week. I've discovered many jewels by linking to the lessons she's learned or simply enjoyed reading. She's a devotional writer at Laced with Grace. And did I mention that Lori is a book reviewer at Christian Women Online?

So, on my first Say it Forward post I want to thank Lori. Despite her busy schedule, she always makes the time to add a comment to Heart Choices.

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