Heart Choices: June 2009

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In Other Words Tuesdays ~ God's Best

I enjoy participating in the meme "In Other Words Tuesdays". It gives me the opportunity to ponder a quote each week and then share my thoughts about it. I find that I enjoy visiting other blogs who also joined in.

The focus of Heart Choices is ...your day to day choices determine what your tomorrows will become. And that impacts body, mind and spirit. I've found that it's good for me to make the choice to participate because it exercises my mind. How's that for burning off calories? Yeah, I wish.

Today we welcome our guest hostess, Jennifer of Scraps and Snippets. Here's Jennifer's choice of quote for this week:

Do you want God's best for you? I know that I do. But how often have you heard people say "He'll probably send me off to Africa and I really don't want to go there"?

I think it helps to remember who God is. He is sovereign, the creator, knows everything, sees everything (yes, everything), is perfect love, full of grace and is perfectly holy. And I question whether He knows what's best for me?

I believe it comes down to dealing with our flesh. When you become a Christian, your spirit is alive but you still have to deal with your flesh. It doesn't go away this side of eternity. One day but not yet. And in the meantime ...we have moment by moment choices to make.

Satisfy the flesh or live by the Spirit?

When we live by the Spirit and abide in Christ, He leads us to His best for us.

When we satisfy our flesh, we do what feels good or what we want now instead of ...God's best.

It comes down to a matter of trust. Do you believe God has your best interests at heart? Or do you think you know better because who can you really trust?

I encourage you to take the time to link to Scraps and Snippets to find other participating blog posts on this quote.


Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett's Deaths

Death is a fact. Nobody gets away with it. We're born into this world and one day we die. It doesn't matter how much money you have or how famous you are. One day we'll all experience death.

Last week there were several high profile deaths, including Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon and now I just read about Billy Mays, the Oxy Clean pitchman.

Death isn't a very popular topic but I thought a lot about it this past week.

Farrah Fawcett; how well I remember when I got my hair cut to hopefully look just a bit like Farrah (yeah right, wishful thinking). In the 70's, Farrah's famous poster was displayed on many young men's walls, including my brother's garage. She was gorgeous and that smile and perfect teeth! I always remembered her birthday because she was born one day after me; February 2nd. However, she was six years older than me.

But this Texas beauty became a woman that girls wanted to look like. I was surprised to read that she was only on Charlie's Angels for one season. I guess she made quite an impact. I thought she did a great job in the movie, The Burning Bed and it was obvious she could act. I think she didn't want to be known only as a pretty face. But Farrah lost her battle with cancer, just like many other women. It's sad because she still had much life in her.

Michael Jackson; I like to remember him as he looked in this photo. I remember when Michael used to sing with his brothers. This little dynamo was so talented and sang so beautifully and definitely stood out. He was a force to be reckoned with. And what a creative genius. He contributed so much to the music industry and ...also to dance. He was definitely unique!

I remember his Thriller album in particular. Greg and I were newly married and we had a boat on Lake Powell. We would play this album as we water skiied and drove around this enormous and beautiful lake. Michael Jackson music brings back memories of those days. I also loved his Man in the Mirror video; very memorable.

While both Farrah and Michael had issues in life that were broadcast all over the world, they were individuals too. I think fame seems to bring more opportunities for good or ...for bad. I'm sure there are more temptations too.

But whenever I hear of someone dying, do you know what is the first thought that goes through my head? I wonder if they knew Jesus.

Because at the end of our lives, that is the only thing that is important. Not how many awards you receive. Not how much money you have. Not how many children you adopted. Not how much money you donated to charity. But what did you do with Jesus?

I want to leave you with a link to Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Connection. There was an interesting article about Michael Jackson. I hope you'll take the time to read it.

Only God knows our hearts intimately. My hope is that I will not only talk about my faith but live it out IN LOVE. After all, I want to allow God to work in and through me for His purposes.


Fitness Friday ~ Healthy Lunch

It's Fitness Friday and my friend Sandy of God Speaks Today has returned from sunny southern California. She's back on the job as host of Fitness Friday. If you're a blogger and want to join in, simply write a post about health or fitness and link to Sandy. We always love to welcome new bloggers to Fitness Friday.

Remember Friday = Health talk, OK?

I'm sure Sandy had many opportunities to do lunch with all the celebrities in Beverly Hills, LA and Malibu. I heard a rumor that she had lunch with Angelina and Brad. Is that really true, Sandy? Take a look at this photo op of the Coopers in front of the famous Beverly Hills sign? Is that cool?

But the big question is: Did they eat a healthy lunch?

Well, you may not have time for a leisurely lunch. Maybe you have a few other mouths to feed ... like your children?

Or maybe you only get a 30 minute break from work to have something quick to eat. So, what can you eat for lunch and still be healthy?

How about a sandwich? Now, I'm not talking about a greasy burger or a bunch of processed meat on a submarine.

  • Use whole grain bread, a pita or a whole wheat wrap

  • Use mustard or non-fat mayo to flavor it

  • Go heavy on the lettuce, tomato, cucumber, sprouts

  • Fresh herbs are great on a sandwich for flavor

  • Vegetable soup is a great accompaniment to a sandwich

  • Fresh fruit or a small salad works well too

A few suggestions for your sandwich filling:

  • Chicken breast

  • Tuna fish packed in water

  • Turkey breast

  • Portabello mushroom, grilled

  • Grilled vegetables

  • Veggie burger

So, what are you going to eat for lunch today? That is the question.

And by the way, I read Sandy's Fitness Friday post and it's so good. She must be well rested after her vacation because she certainly did a great job. She's talking about our Fitness Witness. After all, our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. What are we telling others by how we treat our bodies? You've got to check it out.


Flaunt Your Red Day

Flaunt your Red Party

Today is Flaunt Your Red Day! I'm sure most of you never heard of it unless you read my blog post on Monday. If you missed it, you can read it here.

For some reason, I love the color RED! I enjoy wearing RED. I love RED cars. But I really don't use RED to decorate my home. It's a little too much for me at home because I see my home as my nest ... a place of peace and rest.

But let me start flaunting my RED!

I hope this photo isn't too risque. I was just showing off my RED lounge wear at Christmas time.My mom always liked RED too. This is her table at Christmas time all set with her china and RED accents.

The American Heart Association (which is very near and dear to my heart) has a special program called Go Red For Women. And do you know what their goal is?
To stamp out heart disease in women! Notice the big RED stop sign? BTW, did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women? I had to get that plug in somehow. After all, it is still ...Fitness Friday.

Do you recognize who that is with the lady in RED? Yes, it's Charlie Gibson. He happened to love RED so he asked to be photographed with me! Yeah, right ...I took my niece to Good Morning America and he was kind enough to allow me to be photographed with him.

How about these beautiful RED geraniums in my backyard? Only kidding ...they are on the grounds of Phoenix Biltmore Hotel. I really do have RED geraniums in my backyard around my pool but they aren't doing that great right now in the heat. So, I figured these look better than mine.

This is me and my honey in Italy! This photo was taken when we were sailing to the Isle of Capri which is such a beautiful location. Notice my RED and white shirt?
And my final RED picture is one of my friend Helen and me. We were goofing off at Christmas time and even had a girl's weekend bash. As you can see, Helen has RED hair and she likes RED too!

Well, I certainly had fun flaunting my RED today! How about you? You can join in and write a Flaunt Your Red post. Simply link your blog post to our host Nancy's Southern Lady. Or you can check out the other participating blogs.


Thankful Thursday ~ Laughter

It's Thankful Thursday. I'm learning that it's good for me to have one day a week to focus and write about the things for which I'm thankful. It's been a difficult season in my life and it's easy to lose my focus and get caught up in problems or as I like to say ...challenges.

But then I consider that the one, true, living God knows me and sees all that's going on in my life ...so I can be thankful.

In the midst of challenges, I'm thankful for the gift of laughter.

Yesterday, my friend Tina was going to stop by my house to introduce me to her boyfriend Eric. She is moving to Abilene, Texas as that is where Eric is stationed. I thought it might be nice to bake a cake to celebrate.

I found a beautiful strawberry cake with the recipe on Dear Daisy Cottage. Kimberly has one of those blogs that I can spend an hour reading and looking at her amazing photos and it makes me ...smile. She got the recipe from Lulu at Southern Lady, another fun place to visit.

So, I made the cake but didn't fully read the recipe. I only had two round cake pans instead of the three on the recipe. To compound that, I decided to use my convection oven because I heard that's better for baking but I'm not very familiar with it.

The strawberry coconut cake didn't turn out as I hoped it would. I think I under cooked it by using two pans instead of three. What do you think?

Do you believe it? What a flop! But I had the choice to cry or ...to laugh. And I decided to laugh.

And Tina and Eric actually ate it and ...seemed to like it. Or maybe they were just being nice. But I have to say how thankful I am for good friends and for a good laugh!

So on this thankful Thursday, what about you? Do you sit down and cry or do you try to see the humor in things? I guess there's a time for tears and a time for laughter. But right now, I choose to laugh.

If you have any baking tips for me, please share. And don't forget to visit Laurie at Women Taking A Stand. You can sign in and participate in Thankful Thursday or find other blog posts to read today.


Wednesday's Walk ~ Columbia Presbyterian's Homecoming Day

It's another Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane and I'm linking to Lynnette's blog Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground. This meme has been so much fun for me. I guess the older you get ...the more memories you cherish and want to remember.

I was born with a congenital heart defect in the days when modern surgical techniques were not fully developed. So, I was very sickly as a child.

This photo was taken when I was seven years old just before the doctors finally decided that I had to have the open heart surgery. This is my Grandpa and Nana Sumstad along with my baby sister Christine and brother Steve. If you missed my story about my grandfather, you can link to it here and here.

This photo was taken ten years later when I was a senior in high school. I am pictured here with my cardiologist, Dr. Sidney Blumenthal.My surgery had been performed at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. They had a special part of the hospital at that time called Babies' Hospital.

In 1970, the hospital began to host an annual Homecoming Day. It was a time when former patients could be reunited with each other and their nurses and doctors. I had been asked to speak to this huge audience of people and I was so honored.

Don't laugh at the hair style. It was popular in those days, along with short hemlines. Here I am with my hero. This is my heart surgeon, Dr. James Malm.

It's interesting but when I began searching for old photos, I came across the speech I gave to this gathering on Homecoming Day. I shared about my experience as a patient and how I remembered waking up in an oxygen tent with tubes coming out of all parts of my body. A wonderful nurse reassured me. And then I told them that I planned to become a nurse. I received lots of clapping from the medical staff and especially ...the nurses.

It really was a special day to see everyone once again and to say thank you. When I was leaving, I was approached by the news networks and asked to do an interview. I agreed and was seen in NY on the nightly news.

How's that for being famous for one day?

Now, don't forget to link over to Lynnette's blog to read about other participating bloggers' memories.


Flaunt Your Red ~ Coming Friday

Flaunt your Red Party

Have you heard of Flaunt Your Red? I hadn't either ...until today.

As you may know, I follow a variety of blogs. I know my list is long ...but I have a variety of interests.

Flaunt Your Red is the brain storm of Nancy at Southern Lady. Her theme is "Home is the heart's resting place." I only found her blog recently but I'm finding it very interesting.

Now, you may know that I'm not at all southern. I was born and raised in New York. I did live in Florida for a few years but that doesn't really count and I've lived in the west (Phoenix) for 25 years. But there's something interesting to me about the south. I think it's the manners, the tea, the Paula Deenness (is that a word?). Anyway, it's something different and interesting to this northern and now ...western girl.

When I saw this post for Flaunt Your Red, I had to consider doing this too. RED is my favorite color! I love to wear red. I used to have a red Corvette when I was single (oh so many years ago). I love hearts and they are red. And this blog is called Heart Choices. So, I am chosing to participate in Flaunt Your Red this coming Friday, June 26th. I hope to still post a Fitness Friday post too.

So, if you like red too you may consider linking up with Nancy. She's going to put Mr. Linky up on Thursday for convenience. So, be sure to check back on Friday to see RED!


Happy Father's Day ~ A Tribute to My Dad

Today is Father's Day and I want to honor my dad.

The older I get the more I realize how fortunate I've been to have a father like mine.

I've never gone a day in my life doubting that he loved me. Even when I messed up (yes, I did that plenty), I knew my dad loved me. I'm finding out that's pretty rare for a father and daughter.

My dad was always excited with each of us kids. Here's a photo I found after my mom gave birth to my brother Steve. He was the first born and the roof my dad is standing on was my parent's first house. And my dad built it. It was in Smithtown, New York which is on Long Island. The sign says "It's a boy!"

This photo is my dad holding me in his arms and I was three months old.

During my high school years, my dad and mom were both very involved in my life. They knew all of my friends and boyfriends well. They wanted everyone to feel welcome at my house because this way they knew what was going on. Don't laugh at this photo but many many years ago, I was crowned Lindenhurst Centennial Queen and they were so proud. I had the opportunity to represent our village for one year in parades and events.

When I moved out to Phoenix my dad took the drive with me to get me settled. He always loved Corvettes so it was fun for him to drive my car.

One year we went to San Diego, California. We were both hobbling around since he had knee surgery and I tore ligaments in my ankle. So, we helped each other along the way.
My dad reads the newspaper cover to cover every morning. Of course, the sports page is always first.
My dad even let me teach him about computers. He now does email and goes on the internet and he's 80 years old. You're never too old to learn!

And finally, here's my dad overlooking his family farm in Sumstad, Norway.
He feels so at home here.

Dad, I'm sending you a big hug and my love across cyberspace.
Happy Father's Day!

Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ I'm Amazed

It's Saturday and I'm participating in the meme Then Sings My Soul Satuday. You can link to Amy's Signs, Miracles and Wonders to find other bloggers who have joined in today.

I chose the song "I'm Amazed" performed by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

The words to this song are so meaningful when I realize deep in my heart that ALL of my sins are washed away through Jesus. How amazing is that?

There's nothing I can do to earn this salvation. I simply believe by faith and place my trust in Jesus. I truly am AMAZED!

I've had the privilege of visiting the Brooklyn Tabernacle several times. If you ever get to visit New York City, this is a MUST for any visit. You will be blessed as you worship with people of every color and every nation. I think it might be a little preview of heaven!


Friday Funnies ~ Do Women Talk Too Much?

This week, I am participating in a meme called Friday Funnies. Kim of Homesteader's Heart is our host and you can link there if you want to have a good chuckle. I think laughter is good for your heart and that's why I wanted to participate too.

My friend Lisa brought this video to my attention this morning and I couldn't wait to share it with you. Do we women talk too much? And when did we learn this skill? You've got to check out this little one's vocabulary! LOL!


Fitness Friday ~ Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

It's Fitness Friday! The summer has arrived and the days are gettting hot ...especially here in Phoenix.

Of course, we always like to remind people that it may be hot but it's a dry heat. But we all know ...it's still HOT!

Instead of focusing on exercise this week, I thought I'd talk about fruits and veggies a bit. I know, I know ...you know you're supposed to eat lots of fruits and vegetables but it can be hard to fit it in.

I read in my current Pritikin ePerspective newsletter that we should eat 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. That means 4 fruits and 5 veggies at a minimum.

Here's their bottom line as to the benefits of including fruits and veggies:
  • Helps you lose weight and ...keep it off
  • Helps to reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and many cancers
  • Helps you feel better
  • Helps you look better
  • Helps you live longer

You simply can't get the same benefit from taking a pill. You have to eat real fruits and vegetables.

Right now is a great season to purchase fresh berries. Have you seen all of the strawberries, blueberries, peaches and watermelon in the grocery stores?

Do you need a few ideas?

How about eating healthy and saving money?

Erin of $5 Dinners posted a simple recipe for a fruit salad on her blog. She purchases fruit that is in season and on sale. When she gets home from the grocery store, she cuts up half of the fruit she purchased and puts it in a bowl. This way it's easy to access for a handy snack.

How often do you think of having some fruit but don't want to take the time to clean it or cut it up? Link to Erin's post and see how easy it is to do and ...at the same time save money. I'm all for that.

Let me give you a few tips for ways to include fruits and vegetables in your diet every day:

  • Add fresh fruit to your cereal each morning
  • If you have a sandwich for lunch, be sure to include lettuce or other greens and tomatoes
  • Vegetable soups are a great way to add veggies
  • Gazpacho soup is ideal for hot weather (I usually make up a batch for the week since it's so low calorie and healthy)
  • Snack on raw carrots (You can even buy them cleaned and cut up)
  • Visit your local farmer's markets for fresh and local fruit and vegetables
  • Include fresh raw vegetables in a salad every day

I hope you will find inventive ways to include fresh fruits and vegetables each day. It's a great way to teach your children how to eat healthy.

How about you? Have you found ways to include this important food group in your diet?

Don't forget to visit Sandy at God Speaks Today for her Fitness Friday post. She's writing from California while on vacation with her family. I wonder how she'll get her fruits and veggies in?


Wednesday's Walk ~ Grandpa Sumstad

Last week was my first to participate in the meme Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane. But I want to let you know that it was very memorable for me and I couldn't wait to participate again this week.

Last week, I wrote about my Grandpa Sumstad. He was such a hero to me and a spiritual mentor. If you missed it, you can read it here.

My dad called me from Florida later that day to tell me he'd received a phone call from a man named Bill Sumstad. Bill lives in the Seattle area and had somehow come across my blog post about my Grandpa Sumstad on Heart Choices. He thought we might be related!
Since that phone call, we've pieced together that yes ...we are indeed related. And Bill has a brother who lives in Tucson, Arizona! I also got connected to another new found relative named Ogee who lives in Oslo, Norway. We've become Facebook friends.
How's that for the Internet connecting people?

I thought I'd continue with my walk down Memory Lane by posting a few photos of my Grandpa Sumstad.

Here is my Grandpa as a child. He was named Henrik. As I mentioned last week, he was born on the family farm in Sumstad.

As a young man, my grandfather traveled to America with his younger brother, Tomas Konrad. My grandpa changed his first name to Henry and they took the name of their home town as their last name, Sumstad.

My grandfather met my nana, Aslaug Thoresen in church and they married. His brother Tomas Konrad married and had a daughter named Marian. Unfortunately, he died at a young age in an auto accident.

My dad was their first born and they named him Harry. A number of years later they had a daughter named Ruth. During these early years, the young family returned to live in Sumstad, Norway. My dad went to elementary school there but they returned to Brooklyn, New York once again.

Here is the family while they were living in an apartment in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, New York. It was like Little Norway. My dad and his best friend Bob Sandbo used to hang out together and their moms would yell out the window to each other to see where the boys were.

My dad and mom met in church, Salem Gospel Tabernacle. They were in high school when they met and married in 1950. The next year they had my brother Steve and a new generation of Sumstad's began.

I wanted to post this memory for this week so my new relatives could learn more about my family. So, Bill, Ogee, and Reidar - I hope this provides a little bit of background for you too.

So Lynette, I have to say a big thank you for hosting Wednesday's Walk down Memory Lane. If I didn't participate I may never have found my new relatives. Don't forget to link to Lynette's blog to read more participating posts.


Your Spiritual Bar of Soap

I am over at Laced with Grace today. I wrote a post about your spiritual bar of soap. Can you guess what that is? I learned it from a wise teacher many years ago and so I thought I'd pass it along to you. So head on over there ...

Serious Life Magazine ~ Issue 8 Online

Serious Life Magazine is a FREE digital magazine. That means no clutter and mess. Simply access it online when you're ready to read some very interesting articles. I like that! After all, I have way too many old issues of magazines I can't seem to throw away.

I want to alert you to a few things about this particular issue. I found several of the articles quite interesting.

Do you buy a lottery ticket? Do you spend time imagining what you would do if you won the lottery? Is it a good idea to spend money on a lottery ticket? Well, Brent Riggs has an interesting perspective on this that you won't want to miss.

You can also read a chapter of Jill Samter's new book entitled "Breaking Free: Truths for Healthy Living". As you may know Jill has a popular blog called Foreven n Ever n Always.

There are recipes and columns and the Serious Life Blog Directory! I have Heart Choices listed there. If you're a blogger, check it out so you can be included in the next issue. It's FREE! So, get the word out and check out Serious Life Magazine today.


Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ In Christ Alone

Once again, it's Then Sings My Soul Saturday. I connect with Amy of Signs, Wonders and Miracles. You can find other participating blogs on her link.

I'm on the lookout each week for songs that speaks to my heart. For this week, I choose "In Christ Alone" performed by a talented musician, Travis Cotrell. He provides the music for all of Beth Moore's conferences. I love the words and music of this song.


Lifestyle Related Risk Factors

Today is Fitness Friday. Our host is Sandy of God Speaks Today. You can link there to join in or link to other participating blogs with fitness posts.

Have you heard of The Dirty Dozen? Now before you say that The Dirty Dozen is an old movie starring Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin, let me stop you to say ...that's not what I'm writing about today.

After all, it's Fitness Friday and I want to remain on topic.

But have you ever considered how likely you are to die of a lifestyle related risk factor?

My hubby and I had the opportunity to spend a month at the Pritikin Center several years ago. This was when they were located in a beautiful beach hotel in Santa Monica close to the famous pier. Not a shabby place to get healthy, I can tell you. I continue to receive a monthly newsletter with many of the latest studies on health and wellness.

In the June 2009 newsletter, they shared the findings of a new study and the authors come from several institutions that include the Harvard School of Public Health, the University of Washington, and the University of Toronto. They analyzed nationally representative data.

Their conclusion was that ...more than one million Americans die annually from 12 lifestyle-related risk factors.

They call them The Dirty Dozen. Listen guys, these are risk factors over which we have control.

According to Daniel Akst in a May 15, 2009 commentary on this study in The Wall Street Journal, "Too many of us appear to be bent on slow-motion suicide."

So here they are "The Dirty Dozen":
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Inadequate physical activity and inactivity
  • High blood glucose
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • High dietary salt
  • Low dietary omega-3 fatty acids from seafood
  • High dietary trans fat
  • Alcohol use
  • Low fruit and vegetable intake
  • Low dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids

The reason this study was conducted was to bring attention to the importance of lifestyle changes. They wanted to bring this information to the current healthcare discussions going on in Washington DC.

With the food industry promoting unhealthy food and mega-meals being served at restaurants, children today are becoming increasingly overweight and even obese. Now, I'm not crazy about government intervention and more regulations but that might be coming.

In the meantime, what can you do?

  • Start by teaching your children about healthy eating
  • Practice what you preach
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Provide healthy snacks
  • Walk, walk and walk
  • Eat smaller portions
  • Limit your eating out
  • Drink lots of water
  • Get physical; encourage your children to release some of their energy through sports or simply running outside
  • Don't smoke

This really hit home for me yesterday when I got a phone call from my brother Steve telling me that a good friend of ours died suddenly.

I've known Matt since I was 16 years old and he and my brother have continued their friendship over the years. They both entered the Navy together, they share the same birthday July 10th and they're the same age. Matt would have turned 58 next month. It's much too young to die. He died in his sleep when his wife checked on him since it was later than normal. Very sad news!

So, let's get serious about these lifestyle risk factors. Yes, we'll all die one day. That's a fact. But in the meantime, we can be stewards of our bodies and do our part. What are you doing to positively impact your health?

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