Heart Choices: March 2009

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March Kettle Club

The Kettle Club is a monthly club that's sponsored by Exemplify Online. It was started for bloggers who often feel pressured to come up with ideas and inspiration to keep on blogging. Sometimes, it can become such a huge focus in our lives and ...that's not always good.

The Kettle Club encourages us to spend at least 5-10 minutes or more in prayer and Bible reading ...before getting engaged online with blogging.

I think that's a great idea. Sometimes, I wake up and can't wait to check Heart Choices for any new comments. Then I want to see who has written a new post that I can read. Time can easily get away before I realize I need my quiet time. So, making a commitment to have my quiet time first is a good thing for me.

Each month the Kettle Club posts devotional questions for us to answer and offers encouragement and accountability. I get to link up with other bloggers and we're able to learn from each other. I've made a commitment to be a life long learner so this is another way to accomplish this goal. After all, Heart Choices involves body, mind and spirit.

Here are the discussion questions for March:
  1. What are some practical ways you maintain a consistent "in the Word" time?
  2. Do you have a certain morning system that accompanies your quiet time? If so, share it with us! A special place in your home you go to read? A special devotional or Bible you use? Do you journal, drink tea, pray out loud or have a picture board of those you are praying for?
  3. In what ways have you been applying what you are learning in your devotional time into your day?
  4. If you are working on memorizing Scripture, can you offer a few tips that help you for our other Kettle Members?
  5. Share a standout lesson you’ve learned this month and why it has made such an impact on you.
I absolutely need my morning quiet time!

For the past 15 years, it's been a consistent time for me. Very rarely do I miss and I don't say that with any degree of pride. You see, for me it's become a necessity.

Some days I have more time than others. But what I've found is that the more time I spend with the Lord ...the more I desire to spend with Him.

I have my Bible, devotional, journal and pen all ready to go in the morning. When I first started doing this, I would sit at my kitchen table. But now I have my own office in our home so it's quite comfortable. I have the coffee ready to go because I need it first thing in the morning. I don't have to use an alarm clock because I naturally wake up early. It helps that this has become my routine.

I've also discovered a wonderful Bible teacher named Scott Samter. His messages are downloaded and available on his blog called Opening His Word Together. I found him through his wife's blog called Forever 'n Ever 'n Always. I've been studying the book of Hebrews verse by verse.

The main lessons I've been learning is about walking by faith and not by sight. This has been important for me lately because of the challenges I'm currently facing. When my emotions get out of hand and I become anxious, I remember from what I'm learning to ...keep my focus on Jesus.

I'm learning that my physical senses can be deceived. But faith reaches beyond the physical and takes hold of the unseen. The physical world can be the great temptation to forget God. These have been important lessons for me.

I've also memorized verses that help me to deal with fear. I written them out on cards and have them posted in front of me as I work on the computer. For example:

"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

All I have to do is look down and that verse is right before me to remind me that God will strengthen me and help me. I believe that by faith.

I would encourage you to check out the Kettle Club. While you're there, you might also subscribe to Exemplify Magazine. It's a free monthly online Christian publication that offers Bible studies, devotionals, and lots of encouragement.


Sweet Escapes

Sometimes, it's great to escape from the stress and busyness of life.

I love to visit blogs like Melissa's The Inspired Room. Each Friday she posts A Beautiful Life and invites other bloggers to participate and link to each other. I know I'm a day late but I wanted to join her anyway.

I'm a dreamer. Ever since I was a little girl, I would daydream of places far away or imagine in detail the home in which I would one day live.

I love the beach, the sound of the surf and seagulls. Even now, this picture brings back memories of Santa Monica and Laguna Beach in California. If I close my eyes, I can imagine feeling the cool ocean breeze and the heat from the sun. Greg and I spent much time there on vacation.

For me, it's even an escape just to think about these places.

Sometimes, if I can't get away to escape, I can take some time to listen to soft music and take a bath. I don't do this very often.

But as I think of ways to escape the stress of daily life, it certainly sounds very inviting. My tub is so pretty and I have candles to light. It's a great escape even ...if only for a short time.

I also find that reading a few of my favorite magazines is actually ...a sweet escape.

I love Victoria, Country Living and House Beautiful. I'm never disappointed when I look at their beautiful pictures and articles.

Here are just a few of the photos I enjoy. The first two are from Country Living. Can't you just picture yourself sitting on this porch sipping an iced tea or lemonade? A sweet escape ...
Victoria magazine had great photos of the cherry blossoms that are in bloom in our nation's capital. I was instantly transported back to trips I took to Washington DC with Greg and also with my nieces Kristin and Katie. Another sweet escape... Here's another beautiful photo from House Beautiful magazine. Can't you just see yourself sitting in one of these chairs enjoying the beautiful view? Another sweet escape...

Maybe you can't get away for a sweet escape. But you can always go for a walk, listen to music you enjoy, light a candle, sip an iced tea or a cup of hot tea. Pray, read your Bible and be still. Even a short break can be ...a sweet escape.

The focus of Heart Choices is how your day to day choices will determine what your tomorrows will become. Your choices impact body, mind and spirit. Making time for a sweet escape is good for your heart.

How about you? How do you escape from the stress and busyness of life? I'd love to hear from you too.

Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ We Shall Behold Him

I look forward to Then Sings My Soul Saturday. I join Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders. I find that I'm on the lookout each week for a song that I love. And then I get to visit other participating blogs to see what songs they posted so I can sing along and ...praise God.

This week I chose Sandi Patty's version of We Shall Behold Him. She was one of my favorite Christian singers when I first got serious about my walk with the Lord. A friend at work was so proud that she came from the same city as Sandi Patti; Anderson, Indiana. So, Tonya gave me a cassette tape of her music. I used to play it over and over on my way to work.

Sandi Patty has been blessed with such a beautiful voice. I long for the day when I see Him face to face.


Fitness Friday ~ Accountability

It's Fitness Friday and I had several ideas for topics today. I want to share the reason I decided on the topic of accountability.

You see, it basically comes down to this ...I need accountability!

Yesterday I participated in Thankful Thursday. I wrote that I was thankful for spring and described the beautiful weather we were experiencing this time of year in Phoenix. I began thinking that it would be a great time to go for a hike after completing my post.

Well, you know how it is. I got distracted with other things and didn't go for the hike.
Kate AKA Jottin Mama left a comment asking me if I went for my hike. She's been a part of our Fitness Friday Fanatics blog.

And I suddenly felt very convicted. So, I put on some sun screen. After all, you don't leave the house without it in Phoenix. And off I went for my hike.

Thank you Jottin Mama. I needed that accountability so I could respond to your comment honestly and say "yes, I went for my hike". Check out this cute photo with her hubby and little boy. Did I mention that she's also pregnant?

OK, so let's get back to acccountability.

Maybe you set a goal to lose weight, to get in shape or to simply adopt a healthier lifestyle. I believe an important step to accomplishing your goal is to set up some accountability.

It might be a friend that becomes your walking partner or someone who takes a spinning class with you. It could be simply keeping a log of your food intake and exercise for each day.

My friend Georgann recently lost quite a bit of weight through Weight Watchers. When I asked her about keeping the weight off, she told me that her motivation was that she doesn't want to have to pay a monthly fee to continue to participate. I guess in Weight Watchers if you meet your goal you get free maintenance.

So, for Georgann her accountability is the scale. When she weighs in at Weight Watchers, she doesn't want to gain or else she'll have to start paying fees again.

Here are a few online resources to keep you accountable:
  • The Daily Plate: They were recently acquired by the Lance Armstrong health website. But this is a free place where you can log all of the food you eat in a day, along with your activity. You can track your progress towards your weight loss goals. I used this for some time and found it quite helpful. You can also calculate how many calories you should be consuming depending on your goals.
  • Fit Day: This is another free online site where you can keep a diet and weight loss journal.
  • Nutridiary: A free site where you can keep an online food and exercise diary. You can track your weight loss, obtain information on calorie intake and energy expenditure for different exercises and group support.
  • Diet Nation: This site has some handy weight loss tools including a calorie and activity calculator. A waist to hip ratio calculator helps you determine your body shape.
  • Shape Up America: You will find tools that include a meal and snack calculator and a body mass index calculator. You will be able to track your progress to add some accountability.

One of the best ways to add accountability, especially if you don't like to track your progress with a log, is to have an exercise buddy. If you make a commitment with a friend, you're more likely to continue it so you don't let your friend down.

Several of my neighbors hike together three mornings a week. Kate tells me that there's pressure to join in because everyone's waiting for you. I'm sure there would be mornings when she'd rather stay in bed but knowing that her friends are outside waiting provides accountability.

So, how about it? What's your plan for acccountability? Do you have any stories to share of successes or failures?

If you'd like to join our Fitness Friday Fanatics group, be sure to link to Sandy's blog called God Speaks Today. Send her your email and she'll send you an invitation. It's a private blog so if you're a little shy about sharing your weight and struggles, this might be a good group to join and at the same time, have some accountability.

Speaking of Sandy, have your ever wondered about organics and natural foods? Well, Sandy's Fitness Friday post will provide you with all the information you need to make informed food choices when it comes to these foods. She'll help you decipher what's really healthy and the benefits they provide.


Thankful Thursday ~ Random

I'm glad this is Thankful Thursday. I think I need an attitude adjustment. Making the choice to focus on what I'm thankful for changes my perspective and my attitude.

So, thank you Lynn, of Spiritually Unequal Marriage for hosting this week's Thankful Thursday. You can link there to view other blog posts.

I'm thankful for the Internet! Helping my husband with his company has opened up a whole new world to me. I felt like a baby when I was first learning about blogging, social networks, twitter and all the other fun social media applications.

Spending most of my day in front of a computer can be difficult, especially when I'd rather be out having lunch with the girls. But I can always take a break and visit other blogs and find whatever I may need at that moment.

My bloggy friends have become such a source of comfort, encouragement, laughter and best of all ...friendship.

I can't wait until I can meet some of you in person.

I'm thankful for spring! Even though I live in Phoenix and we don't have a real winter, spring is a wonderful time to get outside and enjoy temperatures in the 70's.

It's a great time for hiking up the mountain behind my house. Hmm ... maybe I'll go for a hike after finishing this post?

I'm thankful for comments on Heart Choices! It can be a bit solitary writing almost every day. You don't always know if anyone reads the posts or has another opinion unless they add a comment. I really appreciate it when people share through their comments.

Gee, do you know something?

By making the choice to focus on being thankful ...my attitude has changed.

Isn't it interesting that the focus of Heart Choices is that "your day to day choices determine what your tomorrows will become"?

Will you choose to be thankful?


In Other Words Tuesdays

In Other Words Tuesdays is being hosted today by Susan on her blog Forever His. You can link there to find other participating blogs.

Our quote for this week is:

“To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own. ”
~ Abraham Lincoln

There are times when I can become consumed with circumstances that are impacting me personally. My focus turns inward and frankly I'm probably not much fun to be around. I'm so thankful for friends who have stood by my side through thick and thin.

However, when I take my focus off of myself and see what others are going through ...it changes my perspective.

Yes, I may still have obstacles to overcome but so do many other people.

When I was working as a nurse, I became so aware of the pain of others. I focused on the needs of my patients and their families and not myself. They were often dealing with major issues like a heart attack or a diabetic about to lose a limb. It really helped me put life in perspective.

I want to share a video of a person who is a wonderful example and personification of Abraham Lincoln's quote.

His name is Nick Vujicic and if you think you have challenges, you've got to see what he deals with ...each and every day.

Nick was born with no limbs and yet he is joyful and gives to others. He inspires others to overcome the obstacles in their lives and to glorify God. He obviously can't forget that he has no limbs but as he focuses on helping other people through his story, he is such a positive role model.

You can't help but be inspired by Nick. I can assure you that your perspective on your own challenges will be in for an adjustment.

Isn't he incredible? I want to have an attitude like Nick. How about you?

What Part of Spring Are You?

You Are Chirping Birds

You are a very caring person. You especially feel for innocent beings, like animals and children.

You are keyed in to the world and very peaceful. You believe that everyone is connected.

You remain focused and in the moment. You are not easily distracted.

You have a good memory, especially for things that you hear. You listen carefully.

I discovered this spring quiz through Marsha's Musings. So, I linked to Blog Things and took the quiz for myself. It was quick, easy and ...fun!
Why not check it out for yourself and leave a comment to tell me what part of spring you are?

Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ Unfailing Love

I had such a good time participating in the meme Then Sings My Soul Saturday last week. So, I thought I'd join Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders again.

I get to visit lots of blogs and ...sing along. And I get to meet some new blogging friends, which I always enjoy. What could be better than praising the Lord on a Saturday morning?

I chose Unfailing Love by Chris Tomlin. The words to this song have such meaning to me, especially at this particular time in my life.

It's amazing that the God who created the heavens and the earth has such love ...for me!!

Wow, I'm blown away by that.

He is my rock and my strength. I love the image of a child's hand in the larger hand. That's how I feel holding Abba Daddy's hand. Isn't that precious? I hope you enjoy this one as you sing along.


Increase Your Metabolism ~ Fitness Friday

Can you increase your metabolism? Have you heard people say they can't lose weight because they have a low metabolism? Is this a cop-out?

On this Fitness Friday, let's talk metabolism, OK?

Let's start with a few basics. Your metabolism is the amount of energy your body burns to maintain itself. It's how fast your internal motor is running. The speed at which your body burns calories is your metabolic rate. Even when you're sleeping, your body constantly burns calories. However, it burns more calories with more activity.

Bottom line: If you take in more calories than you burn, the unused calories get stored as fat and ...you will gain weight.

What are some of the causes of low metabolism?

  • Low calorie diets
  • Eating or drinking lots of sugar foods throughout the day
  • Fasting
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Inactivity

People with a slower metabolic rate have a harder time staying slim because they tend to store fat easily. The slower the metabolic rate the greater the weight gains.

People who have a lower percentage of body fat have more muscle. Muscle requires more calories to maintain itself than fat. Another advantage of having more muscle is that it increases your metabolic rate.

So, if you have built up more muscle you can eat more and have a higher metabolic rate.

Sounds good to me!

Did you know that one pound of fat burns 2 calories a day while one pound of muscle burns 50 calories a day? Which would you prefer? DUH!

How is metabolism impacted by aging?

  • At birth, you have a high metabolism.

  • In your mid-thirties, the metabolism begins to slow by about 3-5% per decade.

  • By the age of 55, your body requires about 150 calories less per day than when you were in your mid-thirties.

What about men versus women?

  • Men typically have about a 10-15% higher metabolic rate than women because they typically have more muscle mass.
  • Women have a slower metabolic rate because they tend to store more fat and have less muscle. Figures, doesn't it?

So, how can you increase your metabolism?

  • Eat 5-6 small meals during the day. If you go for long periods of time without eating, your metabolism slows down.
  • Exercise daily. Go for a walk!
  • Begin to build your muscles. The more muscle that you have, the faster your metabolism becomes. I'll have to write another post about using free weights to get started.
  • Avoid sugars.
  • Drink 8 glasses of water daily.

I guess I keep coming back to the same thing. You've got to come to the point of making the choice to establish a healthier lifestyle; something you can live with. Why not start today?

While you're at it, don't forget to stop by and visit Sandy's blog God Speaks Today. She's adding her unique commentary to many of the news headlines related to health. I can't wait to see what she has up her sleeve.


Laced With Grace

Are you troubled by challenges and circumstances in your life? When you read the newspaper or watch the news on TV and all you hear and see is bad news, what can you do? Do you long to have peace even when ...life is uncertain and unpredictable?
Today, I'm over at Laced With Grace. To read about how to have peace, I hope you'll join me there.

What's On Your Wall Wednesday

I wanted to do something different and more light hearted today.

So, I'm participating in a meme called "What's On Your Wall Wednesday". Barb of Grits and Glamour calls the art and wall decorations in our homes "home jewelry". She writes that it sets the tone for our homes.

Well, I love artwork. And my home has many paintings on the walls. Today I wanted to share a wall collection that I have on one of my living room walls.

In this day and time of trying to not spend lots of money, here's an idea for you.

I purchased an old book that contained pictures of botanicals from a specialty bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona. I removed each page from the book, being very careful not to tear the delicate pictures. I took them to a framing studio so they could be displayed in the best way.

You can probably save some money and do this yourself, if you're a visual person. I need all the help I can get. I think they look great arranged in this space using six of them.

I even had extra pictures from the book so I used two more to display on my guest bathroom wall. I tried taking a picture of the two of them but kept getting glare but I think you can get the idea. You can see more of the detail in this closeup.

The focus of Heart Choices isn't art. But art can be so soothing and relaxing to me and that's good for my heart! With spring in the air, I love to look at the flowers outside and the botanicals on the walls of my home too.

You can check out other blogs who participated in "What's On Your Wall Wednesday" by linking to Grits and Glamour.


In Other Words Tuesday

Today, I'm participating in the meme In Other Words Tuesday. Patricia is hosting this week on her blog Typing One-Handed. You can link there to find other participating blogs.

Here's this week's quote:

"What would happen if we stopped lamenting about the fifty things we can't control and focused our attention on the fifty thousand things we can control? What would happen if we stopped whining about things we have the power to change and finally took charge of our lives and changed them? What would happen if we stopped borrowing sorrow from tomorrow? If we got in the habit of asking ourselves, "What's on my plate today?"
...From Chocolatherapy: Satisfying the Deepest Cravings of Your Inner Chick by Karen Scalf Linamen

This is a good quote for me to ponder. You see, I have a habit of worrying about tomorrow. I hate to admit this and I'm working on it. My mom was a worrier. Now, I'm not blaming her because I know I'm responsible for how I choose to respond to situations. But my first instinct is to worry.

One of my good friends always reminds me that most of the things we worry about ...never happen. And then you've wasted worry time on something that never even happens.

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus goes into detail about how we are not to worry. After all, He provides food for the birds. And how much more valuable are we? Worrying doesn't add a day to my life.

Verse 34 ends with "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its

That's a good lesson for me. I know this in my head. It's just a long way from my head to my heart. And that's where it needs to go for me to apply it.

As I think about the quote from Chocolatherapy, I realize that there's much in the world that I want to see changed. I can get upset about issues but do nothing to change them.

I'm not in control of other people's actions but I am in control of my own. And that's a start.

What can I do?

I may not be able to end world hunger ...but I can sponsor a World Vision child.

I may not be able to stop abortion ...but I can vote for candidates who are pro-life.

I may not be able to stop the increasing violence and sex on television ...but I can choose to turn these shows off in my home.

I may not be able to end heart disease ...but I can eat healthy and exercise to prevent my family history from continuing with me.

I may not be able to change another person's heart to love Jesus ...but I can pray for my friends who don't know Him and share His love with them.

I guess there are many ways I can make a difference. And when I make the choice to focus on something I can do to change my life, I'm less inclined to worry about tomorrow.

How about you? Are you a worrier? Are there issues in your life that you could stop whining about and ...start changing?


Happy Birthday Heart Choices

I made a discovery yesterday by accident. I actually started Heart Choices two years ago today!

So ...it's my blog birthday.

However, I didn't post on a regular basis.

In 2007, I wrote a whopping 9 posts! In 2008, I wrote 97 posts. And for 2009, so far I wrote 45 posts.

What I discovered over time is that ...I love to blog!

Here are just a few of the benefits I've discovered:

  • I get to improve my writing skills.
  • I get to meet the most wonderful bloggers from all over the world. How cool is that?
  • I have so many new friends and I'm getting to know them better each day
  • I'm learning techie stuff. It's taking time but slowly I'm learning.
  • Bloggers like to help each other. I find encouragement, support, bloggy love and did I mention ...how much I learn from them?
  • I love to read comments even if they disagree with me.

Many years ago while I was still working as a nurse, I had a vision for Heart Choices. I knew God had given me that name.

I believe there are seasons in our lives. My husband asked me to help him with his company. Just between us (yeah, right), I had my own ideas about how I wanted to spend my time. But of course, I said yes. And do you know what? I'm so glad I did.

If I hadn't helped Greg, I would never have learned about blogging. Isn't life funny like that? I had to learn techie things, social media, marketing and more.

And on the side ...I experimented with blogging and found something I love!

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for reading Heart Choices.

In the near future, I hope to do one of those bloggy makeovers. I have so many ideas. And I hope to continue blogging for many years to come!


Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ Press On

This is the first time I'm participating in Then Sings My Soul Saturday. But I've visited many other participating blogs on Saturdays and ...what a blessing it's been! So, I'm joining Amy at Signs, Miracles and Wonders today.

I love Selah! This group came to my church one time and sang during our Sunday service. They have such beautiful voices.

Press On is a song that speaks to me right now. When life is uncertain and there are many challenges, it's easy to get distracted and overwhelmed. This song reminds me that I need to press on in Jesus' name.

After all, this isn't my real home; I'm just passing through. I need to keep my focus on Jesus.


Fitness Friday ~ Pritikin Center

Today is Friday and so ...it must be Fitness Friday. I'm linking to Sandy's blog @ God Speaks Today. After all, she's the one who started Fitness Friday. And I have to say, the more I read her blog posts ...the more I've grown to love her.

Sandy is very real and transparent. I would encourage you to read her latest series called God Speaks Through the Storm. I'm amazed that after all she's been through, she still has such a loving, kind and fun heart. I think you'll be encouraged as you read her words. I'm so glad I can call her a blogging friend of mine.

Well, on to my Fitness Friday post!

I decided to write about something I learned about weight loss at the Pritikin program. This program was originally started by Nathan Pritikin who is no longer with us. It's a medically based health program for people who want to get serious about their health.

Greg and I had the opportunity to stay at their facility a number of years ago for three whole weeks. At that time, they were located in the Santa Monica Hyatt, which is oceanfront and next to the world famous pier. That's the one that you can often see in movies with the ferris wheel.

They've since moved to the east coast and the center is located at the Yacht Club at Turnberry Isle in Aventura, Florida. Hmm ...maybe I'm due for a healthy vacation?

The Pritikin program claims to have an important key to losing weight!

And since I believe it's important to be a life long learner, I thought I'd give you some information about this important key. It's called calorie density.

Most diet programs tell you what you can't eat and include all the "don'ts" that you shouldn't do like ..."you must cut calories" and "don't eat carbs".

But the strategy that the Pritikin program encourages is to ...add nine or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This will help you to lose weight.

And believe me, it works!

Both Greg and I lost weight during our stay and continued to lose after we returned home. Of course, they had us exercising our buns off, which were getting smaller over time.

Low calorie density foods are filled with water and fiber, which makes them heavy and more filling. So there are less calories contained in them. One of the main problems with trying to lose weight is the hunger that often accompanies cutting back on calories. If you eat lots of low caloric density foods, you won't experience chronic hunger.

In contrast, high caloric density foods have lots of calories. Examples include things like brownies, breads, cookies, butter, tortilla chips and oils.

It's all about the volume of food you eat. If each bite you eat has an average of 5 calories (like an apple), it's much better than each bite being about 50 calories (like a double cheeseburger).

With each bite, high calorie density foods can be up to 10 times the number of calories of low calorie dense foods!

So, here's your choice.

An apple= 60-100 calories

A plain Dunkin Donuts cake donut= 300 calories

Now, I'm not saying you can never have a donut again. But let's get educated about this and see the difference in calorie density.
One donut isn't very filling. I don't know about you but when I have a donut an hour later ...my blood sugar plummets and I feel terrible. And then I end up looking for something else to eat so I'll feel better.

If you increase the amount of fruit and vegetables (which are basically low calorie density foods), it will help control your feelings of hunger. It will also promote a feeling of satiety and at the same time ...reduce your energy (calorie) intake.

There have been many research studies to back this up. Recent NIH funded research from Penn State University analyzed 658 overweight people who also had high blood pressure. They were attempting to lose weight over a six month period.

The people who made the greatest reduction in calorie density lost the most weight averaging 13 pounds. Those who made the smallest reduction in calorie density lost the least amount of weight, averaging 5 pounds.

So, what does this mean for you?

Increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in your diet. Grab an apple instead of a donut when you need a snack. And don't forget to exercise!

Now how about you? What do you grab when those hunger pangs hit you? An apple or a donut? I really want to know!

And don't forget to visit Sandy for her Fitness Friday post.


Serious Life Magazine

The March issue of Serious Life Magazine is available online now for free.

It doesn't get much better than that. You can view it for yourself by checking out this link.

Brent Riggs is the editor-in-chief of the magazine and if you know anything about him, you know it has to be quality information. He's been a Christian for more than 30 years and has an online ministry. He has several websites including Brent Riggs and Serious Faith. He's on the radio, is a talented photographer and web designer, along with many other talents.

For those of you who must be living on another planet (only kidding), Brent is also Abby's daddy. Brent and his wife Michelle write frequent posts on The Riggs Family Blog...where laughter lives. And Abby is one of their six children and is only four years old. She was adopted from Guatemala when she was six months old and was diagnosed in July of 2008 with an aggressive form of leukemia.

Abby has the sweetest personality. You may wonder how I could possibly know this, especially since I've never met her. Well, her dad posts so many videos of this precious child as she bravely battles her cancer. He gives us frequent updates on her condition.

Brent believes in the power of prayer. And he's not shy about asking people in the blogosphere to pray and ...to tell others to pray.

In the midst of the challenges that Brent and Michelle are facing at this time, they continue to praise God even though life isn't easy. They spend much time at the hospital with Abby. Meals consist of hospital cafeteria food. Michelle's background is nursing so I'm sure that's a big help in this situation. But it's always different when the patient is your own child.

You may have noticed this image on the right column of Heart Choices. And often you will see it on other bloggers' sites too. We're all trying to get the word out so more people will join us in praying for Abby.

Abby's bone marrow isn't producing the cells she needs and her white blood cell count is dangerously low. So, she often has to receive blood transfusions.

Right now, Abby has a fungus infection on her tongue and had to have her tongue painted purple with the medicine. She didn't like that until her good old dad agreed to have his tongue painted purple too. So, Abby and her daddy sported purple tongues!

How cool is that?
No wonder the Riggs Family Blog says "...where laughter lives".
In the midst of going through some very tough challenges, they've made the choice to bring laughter into their lives. And that is such good medicine!

Well, back to Serious Life Magazine. If you haven't checked it out ...you must! Inside its 190 pages, you'll find interesting articles, book reviews, Brent's reviews and (drum roll please) and 300 bloggers in their Blog Directory ...including Heart Choices. They've already had 480,000 page views!

So, don't waste any more time and check it out. And please don't forget to pray for Abby. She needs our prayers.

7 Things People Don't Know About Me

I was tagged by Kristi of Kikoloni to participate in the meme "7 Things You Don't Know About Me".

If you've never visited her blog, you're in for a treat. She's a talented poet, photographer and even has a techie side. And best of all, she loves to share what she learns with others. She's also getting married in less than 40 days! And she's going to make a beautiful bride.

I have to post the rules to this one:

  1. I have to link to the person who tagged me and that was Kikoloni.
  2. I have to share 7 things about me that you may not know.
  3. I need to tag 7 people in my post and link to them.
  4. I need to let them know they've been tagged.
So here goes my list:

  1. I forgot how much I enjoyed writing. When I was in grade school, they choose one person from each grade to attend a summer program for creative writing. I was chosen and loved this class. Blogging has brought back my love of writing.
  2. I am a romantic. My mother used to say I was in love with love.
  3. My favorite magazine is Victoria. I love to daydream and sit for hours reading this magazine.
  4. I still have so many connections to my high school friends and it's been so many years since I graduated from Lindenhurst High School on Long Island, New York. The village of Lindenhurst even has a website with a video. They've certainly come a long way!
  5. My favorite place to be is sitting by the ocean listening to the sound of the surf. I grew up on the water but I now live in a desert; go figure. But I'm glad San Diego is only an hour away by plane or a six hour drive.
  6. I met my husband Greg after he recruited me for a job. I was living in Florida at the time. I told him I would take the job if ...he paid me more. After all, I had to move cross country to take the position. He agreed and the rest is history.
  7. Greg and I got married less than three months after our first date. We got married in Vail, Colorado in a chapel next to the ski slopes with our immediate families present.
Now, here's the seven people I'm going to tag:

  1. Shawie of A Grateful Heart
  2. Felisol of On the Far Side of the Sea
  3. Kate of Jottin Mama
  4. Meg of Life in Balance
  5. Kari of Another Day in Paradise
  6. Lynn of Spiritually Unequal Marriage
  7. Cindy of Letters From Midlife

I'm looking forward to reading your lists of "7 Things People Don't Know About Me". Since we don't always get to meet each other face to face, it's fun to learn more about each other the blogging way.

In Other Words Tuesday

In Other Words Tuesday is being hosted by Deborah on her blog Chocolate & Coffee. You can link there to participate or to read other blog posts on this topic.

Hmm ...chocolate and coffee; two of my favorite things.

Well, I guess I'd better move on to this week's quote:

"Refuse to be average. Let your heart soar as high
as it will."
by Aiden Wilson Tozer

I never wanted to be average. As a child I always felt I had to prove something. I was different from other children because I was born with a heart defect that wasn't corrected until I was seven years old. So, I couldn't run and keep up with the other children prior to that time.

Once I had the corrective surgery, I felt like I had much catching up to do. I wasn't content with running a race. I wanted to run faster and maybe even win. Well, I didn't always win but ...I can run pretty fast. Just ask my husband; lol. But it was really my flesh that wanted to prove a point.

But as a Christian, there really is no place for average. And it has nothing to do with me in myself. It's because of who lives within me; the Holy Spirit. I am a child of the Most High God and the Bible says He has gifted each believer with talents.

I might think I have something above average to offer but ...whatever gift I have is because the Lord created me and gifted me in that way.

If my heart is totally given to God, I will use the gifts I've been given for His purposes. And best of all, He does the work in and through me. I just need to cooperate and not allow my flesh to fight Him or get in the way.

Have you ever had a time when you had a challenge before you and it was so outside of your normal comfort zone? I have and it's in those times that I knew I couldn't accomplish this but He could through me. And it was so awesome to see Him work through me.

I guess I could say I felt like I could soar!


Do You Know Your Neighbors?

Do you know your neighbors? It seems like our lives have become so busy. I live in a gated community and often come and go using my garage door clicker to enter and leave my home. There are times when the only person I have real contact with is the guard at the gate. And by the way, it's a good thing that Tom, Veronica and Corey are friendly people.

But one thing I really love about my neighborhood is ...the monthly coffees.

They are held the first Monday of every month except for the summer months. After all, we do live in Phoenix and many people like to get away when the temperatures can soar over 100 degrees during the day!

Although I don't get to go to enough of them, when I do attend ...I always enjoy myself.

Women sign up to host a coffee in their home and they provide the drinks and food. It's usually breakfast type foods like muffins, fruit and cake along with coffee and other beverages.

The monthly get togethers provide an opportunity to meet and get to know my neighbors. I hear lots of news about what's going on in the area including who might be sick or newly widowed. I like that it's not a gossipy type of gathering. I've always had a fun and relaxing time, sipping a cup of coffee and visiting.

Today, our coffee was hosted by one of my neighbors who has the same model as my house. I love to see how she arranged her furniture and used her unique style to create her home environment. It's a great way to get new ideas or even find a word of mouth referral for a good dry cleaner or handyman.

How about you? Do you know your neighbors? Do you have any ideas or ways you choose to get together with your neighbors?

How To Get Rid of Belly Fat

Getting rid of belly fat was not a concern for me until ...after menopause.

I realize that many women who read Heart Choices are much too young to know anything about belly fat after menopause. But I guess it's similar to belly fat after pregnancy. When you look down and see that extra roll of fat, it's not very pretty. And by the way, this is not a picture of me.

So, is there a secret formula to melt away the belly fat?

If I do 100 sit ups every day will that take care of the problem?

How about those pills that promise to be the magic bullet?

I hate to be the one to tell you this but ...it still comes down to the basics. You've got to cut back on the amount of calories you consume and get moving and ...get some exercise.

There are many reasons people gain weight in their belly. Here are a few:
  • Heredity

  • Hormonal changes

  • Too many calories

  • Not enough physical activity

  • Aging related weight gain

As you get older, your metabolism slows down and so the amount of fat in your body increases. And I can tell you the fat distribution seems to shift to the abdomen.

I always remember having a thin waist when I was younger but now I really have to work at keeping it. If I gain weight, guess where it goes? Right to my belly and ...I hate that.

Having excess belly fat isn't good for your health either. It increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even some cancers.

OK, so what's the best way to lose belly fat?

  • Reduce the amount of calories you consume: Now, I'm talking about eating a healthy diet and not starving yourself. Increase the complex carbohydrates in your diet. This would include whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This adds fiber and creates a feeling of fullness. Lean meat, fish and poultry can be added. Consume less simple sugars. Junk food and soda contains lots of sugar. So, skip the sweets and fast food.

  • Regular exercise that includes cardio: This is the best way to lose weight, including belly fat. Going for a daily walk is one of the best exercises and can be done anywhere without any special equipment. So, no excuses. If it's raining, walk in the mall. (But you must keep moving and not stop to shop.)

  • Strengthen your abdominal muscles: Spot reducing doesn't work! But in addition to your cardio, firming up your abdominal muscles will help flatten your belly. On another post, I'll have to share the sit up routine I learned at Sheryl Cooper's dance studio. She's Alice Cooper, the rock star's wife. I continue to do this routine just about every day.

  • Strength training: Some research shows that incorporating strength training in your exercise routine can be helpful. As women age, we lose muscle. Less muscle accounts for why we burn fewer calories than men do. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism and ...the more you can eat without gaining weight. Doesn't that sound good?

As you can see, there's no easy way to melt away that fat around the belly and keep it off without healthy eating and exercise.

I keep saying this but it's about adopting a healthy lifestyle. And it's got to be one you can live with for the long term. After all, it's about taking care of your body so you have the energy and stamina to do the things God has called you to do.

So, let's get going girls (and guys too)!

I'm linking to Sandy at God Speaks Today on this Fitness Friday. Last week, I got all messed up on my days and forgot to write a post. Hmm ...is it the age thing? By the way, Sandy wrote about the importance of rest. After all, it's important to have balance. Did you know that sleep is another key to losing weight? Be sure to check out Sandy's blog and make sure she's awake!

I hope you'll add your comments and let me know if you've had success with getting rid of belly fat ... or not. I think we can all help each other.


Thankful Thursday ~ Wisdom

The theme for this Thankful Thursday is wisdom. Lynn of Spiritually Unequal Marriage is our host today. You can link there to find other participating blogs.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Proverbs 9:10

I am so thankful that I live in a time and place where I am free to seek knowledge and wisdom. In some parts of the world, this isn't so.

I have so many books and Bibles at my disposal. And I love to read. But there's such a difference between knowledge and wisdom.

I can read as many books as I like but ...do I apply what I learn?

Wisdom takes time and experience. You may read to your child but it's take time and through experience that they begin to understand and apply this knowledge.

I'm the same way. I have a thankful list in regards to wisdom. I'm thankful for:

  • My early morning quiet time when I can read my Bible and pray seeking God's wisdom.
  • How my mom used to read to me as a child and helped me develop a love for reading
  • My Sunday morning small group Bible study
  • The Truth Project that our group is studying about understanding our world from a biblical worldview
  • Jill of Forever n Ever n Always who has gained such wisdom and loves to share it with others
  • Scott (who is Jill's husband). On his blog called Opening His Word Together, his Bible teachings are recorded. I've been so blessed by listening to Hebrews. I've gained such wisdom as I'm learning to apply what I learn.
  • The years of attending and being a children's leader in Bible Study Fellowship. They were invaluable in my understanding, growth and applying God's Word.

I am still a work in progress. After all, I want to be a life long learner. But in addition to gaining knowledge, I really want to gain wisdom so ...I will apply what I learn.


Say it Foward ~ Meet Beth

Mom Blogs

I was recently thrilled to be the recipient of Say it Forward by Loni of Writing Canvas. Loni and I became instant friends because of her precious daughter Jessica. You see, Jessica had emergency open heart surgery not long ago.

As most of you already know, I was born with a congenital heart defect and had open heart surgery many years ago when I was seven years old. I know, that was sooo long ago!

When Loni wrote about Jessica, her words tugged at my heart and ...I simply had to add my comments. We established an instant connection. Since that time I've followed her blog and I'm getting to know her better each day. Thank you Loni!

I know that Say it Forward is supposed to be posted on Friday. But I have a conflict!

Friday to me means Fitness Friday. That's the day I link up to Sandy at God Speaks Today.

So, I hope nobody will mind but ...I have a special Say it Forward to give out to one of my favorite loyal commenters on Heart Choices.

Her name is Beth and she lives in North Carolina. Her blog is called I'm Heading Towards My Destiny. Many of you may already know Beth because she's a great commenter. She's all over the blogosphere. BTW, is that a word?

Beth describes herself as a worshipper, intercessor, daughter, wife, mother and friend. I can say a loud amen to the friend part because even though I've never met Beth face to face ...I love her like a friend I've known for years. People who don't blog may not be able to understand our bloggy relationships. But I've been so blessed to meet so many wonderful new friends like Beth.

After 15 years of marriage, Beth and her husband adopted their little girl who is now three and a half years old. I'm sure she keeps them plenty busy. Her photos look adorable! You can read about Beth's experience with the adoption here.

Beth has such a sense of humor. Every Monday she participates in something called Not Me Monday. She writes about some of the things she did that week that she'd rather not admit. I love how honest she is and I've found myself laughing out loud with her.

She and her husband have a mountain home where they can go with their daughter to get away for a time. Many of us were asking for more photos of this place and so she posted these gorgeous pictures. I can just imagine sitting on her porch with a cup of hot coffee checking out the views and having a girl chat with Beth; can't you?

Beth has also lost lots of weight and even posted her before and after pictures on her blog. She did a terrific job of losing the weight and looks fabulous. I love that she is health conscious too; a woman after my own heart. Wink, wink ...Heart Choices!

Beth participates in Thankful Thursday, Word Filled Wednesday, Fearless Friday and Then Sings My Soul Saturday. Every day of the week, I can always find something on her blog that is entertaining, thoughtful, insightful or down right funny!

I hope you'll take some time to visit Beth at I'm Heading Towards My Destiny.
I know you won't be disappointed.

So sweet Beth, don't forget to post your Loyal Commenter badge.
You definitely deserve it!
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