Heart Choices: July 2009

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Fitness Friday~ Let's Cheer Sandy On

Today is Fitness Friday. Sandy of God Speaks Today is the originator of this meme. I decided to write about Sandy today because I think she could use our prayers and support.

You see, Sandy is at the SheSpeaks Conference. She's taken her book manuscript along with her and she's meeting with potential publishers. I've been praying about this since I know ...it's been her dream.

Sandy describes herself as a freelance writer, fitness buff, wife and mother with a quirky sense of humor. I can attest to that sense of humor.

Anyone who follows her blog called God Speaks Today knows that Sandy has a unique style of writing. She can make the most mundane topic come alive. She's real and honest and can motivate people in a fun way. That's one of the reasons I wanted to join her for Fitness Friday.

I even heard that she can sing and wanted to audition for American Idol. Is that really true Sandy?

This will be Sandy's second year attending SheSpeaks. She did some revisions to her original manuscript and is praying that this is her year.

Border's Books ...here comes Sandy!

Maybe one day I'll be able to say I knew her when. LOL.

I love how she asked for feedback from her blogging friends and even had us vote on the best title for her book.

What is Sandy's book about? Well, she knows what it's like to lose her 8 month old baby boy named Noah. He's waiting in Heaven so she'll see him again. And then only a few months after her devastating loss, her mom died suddenly and she was only in her 50's. That's one of the reasons Sandy is so motivated to live a healthy lifestyle.

Sandy writes so honestly about how she got through this stormy season in her life. She's a Christian and her faith in the Lord has been her foundation.

I think she's got such an important message to share in this book. I may not know what it's like to lose a baby but we all have our own stormy seasons in life. So, I think we could all learn something from her.

Would you add Sandy to your prayer list? I want to be an encourager to her and to let her know that we are praying for her.

I hope you'll visit Sandy's God Speaks Today and let her know.


Thankful Thursday ~ Summer Fun

It's Thankful Thursday and Lynn of Spiritually Unequal Marriage is hosting. Lynn has chosen the theme of 'summer fun' for this week.

It's been a challenging time for me this year. My husband and I aren't going to be able to get away this summer. And if you didn't know ...summers in Phoenix can be very hot with daily triple digit temperatures.

But I have a choice to make. I can have a pity party or I can make the choice to focus ...on all of the good things in my life.

So that's what I'm going to do.

I'm thankful for:

  • A husband who loves me
  • Air conditioning that works
  • Ripe peaches, nectarines, strawberries, blueberries
  • Digital magazines like Exemplify and Serious Life
  • My dad's health is good right now.
  • My niece Kristin is graduating from graduate school in speech pathology and she already has a job.
  • I am loved by the one, true living God and I know where I'll spend eternity.
  • My blogging friends that I've grown to LOVE (you know who you are)
  • The power of prayer
  • Completing the study of Romans on Opening His Word Together

I won a $100 gift card from 1-800-FLOWERS this week. Check out my twitter messages below. BTW, I'm Panda444 on Twitter.

Savvy Auntie's Day was on Sunday. They randomly chose a Savvy Auntie and ...I won!

Isn't it interesting how what you choose to focus on can actually ...change your attitude?

So, how about you? What can you be thankful for about this summer?


Wednesday's Walk ~ Norwegian Relatives

Wednesday's Walk down Memory Lane has become such a joy for me to write. I want to thank Lynnette of Dancing Barefoot ...on Weathered Ground for creating this meme.

There have been a few special benefits of joining in these Wednesday's Walks.
  • I actually found some new relatives on my father's side of the family after writing a post about my Grandpa Sumstad.
  • My niece Katie started reading these Wednesday posts because she's learning more about our family history.
  • I've made some new blogging buddies.
  • I've had fun searching through old family photos (more to come).

So, for this Wednesday's Walk, I wanted to share a few photos I received from a new relative in Norway. Ogee found his way to Heart Choices through another new relative named Bill Sumstad who lives in the Seattle area of the US.

Ogee wrote to me and told me that he was born and raised in Roan, which is next to Sumstad in northern Norway. His father's mother was my Grandpa's father's sister. Does that make sense? I think I need a diagram. LOL.

Ogee has been kind enough to send me some photos of that area of Norway.

Take a look at this view.

Looks like a great place to sit and relax. Take a look at the dog lying down. I'm sure my own Dad would love this, right Pop?

Not a bad place to eat!

From left, May Anita (Thomas' girlfriend), Inger (Ogee's sister), Ove (Inger's boyfriend) and Thomas (Inger's son)

I had to l augh because Thomas lives in Norway but he's wearing a T-shirt that says Brooklyn. My niece Katie lives in Brooklyn, New York. I'm not sure what the relation is but Thomas must a second cousin or something like that.

I want to thank my new cousin Ogee for the great photos he shared with me. I love how the internet has brought people together. We often only hear about the bad aspects but it can be used for such good too.

Happy Wednesday and don't forget to visit Lynnette for more posts on Wednesday's Walk down Memory Lane.


In Other Words Tuesdays ~ Who Are You In The Dark?

Today is "In Other Words" Tuesdays. Our host for this week is Deborah of Chocolate & Coffee.

Now, how can you resist visiting a blog with a name like Chocolate & Coffee?

The quote Deborah chose for this week is:

I agree with Oswald Chambers' quote. It's easy to appear one way in public but something else when nobody's around.

Now, I'm not pointing fingers but ...I'm just saying.

  • How many times have you argued with your spouse or kids all the way to church? You get out of the car and try to arrange your Sunday smile.
  • Have you ever complimented someone on their home but inside felt jealous and wondered why you couldn't have a home like that?
  • What about the times when you're in the grocery store and the clerk is just so slow? Do you become impatient or do you try to be understanding?
  • Have you ever talked to others about how important praying and reading your Bible is but lately you just haven't had the time to spare?
  • How do you answer your phone? Does your voice change when it's someone you consider "important"? Or do you treat all people with kindness?
  • Do you obey the speed limit when you see no policeman around?
  • Do you claim to forgive but continue to harbor bitterness about a wrong done to you?

These questions cause me to examine myself. Am I the same in public as I am in private when nobody's looking?

The reality is that God sees and knows all, including ...the motives in my heart.

So, who am I kidding?


Are You Authentic?

Are you authentic? We talk a lot about being real.

But when you blog do you let it all hang out? I was pondering this recently.

For several years, I was on the leadership committee for my denomination's annual women's conference in Phoenix. One of my jobs was to research and locate potential keynote speakers for this event.

It was fun communicating with people like Jennifer Rothschild. I actually got a return phone call from her hubby (her own Dr. Phil) while I was grocery shopping!

And Jennifer was our keynote speaker that year and ...did an awesome job.

Years before we actually confirmed Lysa TerKeurst as a keynote speaker, she phoned me at home from her cell. She was in an airport waiting to board her flight and she was calling me! I was so excited as she shared a testimony with me! I was thrilled when she finally spoke at our conference.

And I have to say that Lysa's ...the real deal!

But one year, our leadership team was really praying about the theme for the conference. We had already lined up Liz Curtis Higgs as our keynote speaker. I had nothing to do with arranging this as she'd been booked years in advance. But when we prayed about our theme, I remember "let's get real" kept going through my head.

When I suggested this theme, there was some skeptism. But the women graciously agreed to pray about this.

Jeanie, our team leader came to our next meeting with some exciting news. She had mentioned "let's get real" to Liz and ...she loved it!

Why was I surprised? The woman who shared that years ago she had a radio show and Howard Stern told her she needed to ...clean up her act!

After becoming a believer by the grace of God, her first best selling book was titled "Bad Girls of the Bible". Yes, Liz got it. She knew that many women needed some real practical advice about living out this Christian life. Not just the niceties because many women have some very real and difficult issues in their lives.

I have to say that Liz was a delight. She's an excellent speaker, an encourager and oh so funny. But she also knows when to get serious. I observed her speaking with many hurting women during our breaks, loving on them and speaking truth to them. I simply have to say that I love Liz Curtis Higgs! She's ...the real deal.

As I'm writing this post, I realize I still have so much more to say on this topic. So, if you have an interest in this topic, I may write several posts on this theme. I'll post another one next Monday so I hope you'll return for more. The Lord is working on my heart in this area too so maybe ...we can all learn together.

I have a few questions for you. How much do you share? Do you lay it all out there in your blog? Or are you selective? How do you protect the privacy of your loved ones?

Happy Savvy Auntie's Day!

Happy Savvy Auntie's Day!

Maybe you hadn't heard but Melanie Notkin, the CEO of Savvy Auntie has declared the fourth Sunday of July as ...Savvy Auntie's Day.

I joined this social network when it first began last year. It's a great place to go if you're an auntie.

And as a savvy auntie I wanted to celebrate.

I had won a giveaway from Jill's Forever N Ever N Always blog several months ago.

And do you know what it was?
A gift certificate to a spa! How cool is that?

My only problem has been that I've been working so much lately I haven't had time to redeem my gift certificate. How crazy is that? This from a gal who loves stuff like this.

So, in honor of Savvy Auntie's Day, I booked my appointment for a facial at Body Beautiful Spa in Phoenix.

Let me tell you, Silvia has magical hands and fingers. My face is so clean. I won't go into details but ...you know all those blackheads that accumulate? Well, I don't think she left any behind. My skin is sparkling!

I would highly recommend this place. I think I'm going to have to write about it on my Word of Mouth Phoenix blog. Thank you Jill and thank you Silvia!

If you know of someone who is a special auntie, I hope you'll wish them a Happy Savvy Auntie's Day.

I want to give a shout out to a few savvy aunties: Aunt Ruth, Aunt Christine and Aunt Charity! Enjoy your special day!

AZ Bloggers Meet Face to Face

This past Thursday, I had the opportunity to meet six other AZ bloggers for lunch at Gooseberries in Phoenix. It's one of those lovely tea rooms that we gals tend to love.

When you read someone's blog consistently, you really get to feel like you "know" that person. After all, most of us write what's on our heart. Many of our real life friends and family don't always understand the blogging bit.

But I must say that getting to know these women online made it so easy at this first "in person" meeting.

I jumped at the opportunity when Michele of Beelieve You Can suggested it. The occasion that prompted our meetup was that Michele is moving to Pennsylvania next week. Since we both live in Phoenix, we've often written each other about one day getting together for coffee or lunch.

But you know how life is. You get busy and keep putting it off. But there's nothing like moving to another state on the other side of the country ...to give us a push.

This is Mary of Pile of Smiles and Michele of Beelieve You Can. Both of these women were just like they write.

From left to right is Sherry of Country Wings in Phoenix Donetta of A Life Uncommon and Marty of A Stroll Thru Life.

We didn't leave empty handed either. Sherry gave us each a gift bag of goodies and Michele had a beautiful hat box and asked us each to pick out an item to take home.

Here's Charlotte of At Home in Scottsdale and Charlotte's Weblog. Did you know that her hubby is also a blogger and a retired pastor? He should have joined us for lunch too. She shared the story of how they met. I got to sit next to her.

Take a closer look at these adorable bookmarks. Charlotte made them for each of us. She obviously researched our blogs and used photos and wrote the name of our blog on each one. She's very creative and good on that computer of hers.

And on my other side, I got to sit next to Mary of Pile of Smiles. We were matching in our blue tops and we had lots to talk about; too much in fact so I think we need to get together again. She is just as nice as she seems on her blog and I love her smile. She's the real deal.

In fact, I have to say that this time together was a delight. Donetta was so interested in our stories about how we came to know the Lord. It was so interesting listening to how He's impacted our lives. That alone makes us instant sisters, doesn't it?

Thank you Marty, Donetta, Sherry, Michele, Mary and Charlotte. I loved meeting each one of you and hope to see you again soon. In the meantime, I'll be following your blogs.


BlogHer Blog Hop '09

I really wanted to go to BlogHer's annual conference this year. Last year I followed many of the #BlogHer tweets on Twitter. I loved reading the posts written by many of the women attending.

We all know that women can multi-task! These gals were listening, learning and blogging ...all at the same time.

So what else is new?

My writer friend Ruth and I talked about going to Chicago together. But then life happens ...and I'm at home and not attending AGAIN.

Instead of being sad I decided to join Pensieve in her BlogHer Blog Hop '09. If we can't be there this year, we can all write about it and visit each other.

I was so excited to learn that next year's BlogHer conference place and date was announced.

New York City BlogHer '10 ...here we come!

My friend Ruth already lives there so I'm sure she'll be going. And I'm originally from NY and my "favorite" niece Katie has an apartment there ...so just maybe I'll get to go too.

Mark your calendars early. Next year's date is on Friday and Saturday August 6-7, 2010. I hope to see you there!

I almost forgot to tell you about me and Heart Choices. I worked as a cardiovascular nurse for 25 years but now work with my hubby in technology. I had to learn all about social media because we have a patent for a new way to share recommendations online. How cool is that? More to come on that later. But Heart Choices is my personal blog where I share about things like getting back in shape, what I'm thankful for, memories and fun times with my family and friends and so much more. So, hope you will come on back to visit any time!

And don't forget to visit other bloggers who didn't get to go either this year. Just link to Pensieve and there's a long list to visit and why not add a link to your Blog Hop '09 post? There are prizes, if you follow the rules.

The Shoe Show Blog Party

The Shoe Show

I'm participating in the Shoe Show blog party thrown by none other than ...Southern Lady.

Now, anyone who really knows me, knows that I'm no southern lady. I'm New York born and bred. However, I think I've lost my New York accent. But I thought this shoe party would be fun! And frankly, I think I need a little bit of fun!

I have a confession to make though. I'm not one of those women who simply adores shoes. I own one pair of really expensive Stuart Weitzman shoes I bought for a wedding I attended. Oh and I almost forgot, I also own a red pair of Via Spiga shoes. But I can't even remember the last time I wore them.

You see, I love to go barefoot! I have small, wide feet.
And when I go outside I usually wear ...flip-flops! After all, I now live in Phoenix, Arizona.

Here are my back door flip-flops.

Here are my garage door flip-flops.

Here's my closet with my shoes. Can you see the hiking boots and my Stuart Weitzman's on the top shelf? But take a look at all of my flip-flops. I have many colors, some are very inexpensive and a few are a little bit fancy. Those are my church flip-flops. I try to have class and ...match my flip-flops with my outfits.

Well, I guess I'm a failure at the Shoe Show Blog Party. Gosh, do you see those two bites on my left foot? I was gardening the other day and something bit me.

But back to the Shoe Blog Party! Don't let me spoil your fun. I always enjoy seeing other people's shoes. So, don't let a flip-flopper take any excitement and joy away from this party.

Now, you all don't forget to stop by Southern Lady and say hi. Is that Southern enough for you? You can choose to write your own shoe party post or simply find other participating blogs to read and add your comments. And thank you for this invite, Nancy. It really was fun!


Fitness Friday ~ Living a Fit Life

It's Fitness Friday! As always, I link up with my good friend Sandy of God Speaks Today.

I know she's been so busy working on her book manuscript. Did you know she will be at SheSpeaks Conference July 31st and will be meeting with potential publishers? I think she's got a great message to share and I'm praying for her.

I was so honored to be asked my other good friend Lisa Shaw to write a guest post on her Living a Fit Life blog. It took me longer to write because I wanted to do a good job for her. If you've ever done a guest post, you know what I mean. So, I hope you will link over to Lisa's and read this post.

And don't forget about Sandy. She always has such a unique writing style and she's so encouraging and ...funny.

Thankful Thursday ~ Victory

It's Thankful Thursday and Lynn of Spiritually Unequal Marriage is once again our host. Lynn has chosen the theme of victory for this week. You can join in and link there or find other participating blogs to read.

Have you ever started to read a mystery book and couldn't wait to find out how it ended? I used to love to read Nancy Drew and Grace Livingston Hill books as a child. And I have to admit there were times when I peeked at the last few pages just to find out how it ended. I couldn't wait but then I returned to where I was reading even though I already knew the ending.

Well, I have a news flash! I already know the ending to the greatest battle of all time. I'm so thankful that the battle has already been won and ...Jesus is the victor.

Learning to live in victory today is the challenge. But it helps to remind myself that I already know the ending and ...I'm on the winning side.

So, in the midst of many challenging days when I become discourged and tired, I can continue to be thankful and praise God.

How about you? Have you reminded yourself that you already know the ending?

I find it amazing that God chooses to use me as His hands, feet and dare I say my mouth ...for His purposes in this world. If my job was done, I'd already be at home with Him. So, what's my response?

Listen, obey and press on continuing in the work God has called me to do.

Happy Thankful Thursday to you!


Wednesday's Walk ~ Iva

I look forward to Wednesday's because I get to participate in Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane. Lynnette hosts this meme on her blog called Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground. You can link there to find other Wednesday posts.

Today I have a few memories I'd like to share about Iva. I first met Iva when she was about 14 years old. She was raised by her grandmother, Ruth. I was volunteering in the Homebound Ministry at my church and I was assigned to visit Ruth so of course, I met Iva. I'll have to save my memories of Ruth for another post.

This photo was taken several years ago of Ruth and Iva.
I had the opportunity to take Ruth to church each Sunday. And Iva got to attend also. I remember the first day I took her to her Bible study class with others her age. I felt like a mother who didn't want to leave her child. She didn't know anyone and I was so concerned she would feel left out.

But Iva actually went to summer camp with the church teens in California. Ruth and I were just about crying as we waved to Iva. When she returned, we were so glad she had made a friend at camp. Yay!

Iva and I even got to go to Santa Monica, California together! She had never been to the ocean in her life and when I asked her what she wanted to do she said ..."let's jump in the ocean!"

Well, as many of you know the Pacific Ocean is cold, especially for an Arizona girl. But I didn't want to disappoint Iva ...so we put our bathing suits on and jumped in the ocean.

I can't tell you how much fun that was; to see the delight on Iva's face. I may have been shivering but after a while, I couldn't care less. This was such a special time for us.

One thing that was very important to Iva's grandmother was that she graduate from high school. And she did! Here's a photo of the two of us at her high school graduation. Unfortunately, Ruth didn't live long enough to see this day but I was so glad to be a part of the celebration.

This photo was taken on Iva's 18th birthday. We went to the Diamondback's game and had great seats. We even ate at Friday's which is located overlooking the baseball stadium before the game.

I was so proud of Iva when she got her first apartment on her own. She got a good job with a bank and continues to work there today. She even got her driver's license; something she's wanted for a long time. I know her grandmother would be so proud of her!

And take a look at this little angel face. This is Kaylie Hope, Iva's little girl who is a year old. I just wish Ruth had lived to see her great granddaughter.

I haven't seen Iva much lately because of my work but we are going to plan a reunion. But I wanted to record a few of my special memories of a very special relationship that ...continues to this day.

Iva celebrated her birthday yesterday, July 20th.

Happy Birthday Iva!

I love you lots!


Blog Hop ~ Favorite Recipe

Nana's Norwegian Waffles

Combine the following:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks of melted margarine or butter
  • 1/2 pint of sour cream

Beat above ingredients well.

Alternately, add:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk

Then add another:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk

And add:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

And finally add:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Bake on hot waffle iron until lightly browned. Serve warm or cold plain or with butter and jam.
MckLinky Blog Hop


In Other Words Tuesdays ~ Running Away

Today is "In Other Words Tuesday" and our host this week is MiPa of Miriam Pauline's Monologue. She has chosen the following quote for us:

Have you ever wanted to run away? Has your life ever become so difficult that you felt the need to escape? Maybe you're tired of married life because you lost that excitement? Maybe you want to be married but your boyfriend doesn't share your faith but you just know he'll change?

Jonah was attempting to run away from the Lord's instructions. The word of the Lord had come to Jonah very clearly. He was instructed to go to Ninevah and preach.

God was aware of the Ninevites' wickedness and wanted Jonah to proclaim a message God had given to him. But Jonah didn't want to go and tried to run away and instead ...go to Tarshish.

I can laugh at Jonah as I think in my head "Jonah, what were you thinking? Like you can really hide from God! He knows everything and sees everything. Who were you kidding?"

But Tarshish doesn't have to be a place.

We can try to escape and run away to our Ninevah's through:

  • Excess food
  • Shopping and spending money on things we don't need
  • Drinking excessive alcohol and wine
  • Drugs
  • Constantly seeking approval
  • Keeping up with the "Jones"

I'm sure you can add a few I've not thought of.

Many times it's easier to delay or not fully obey what we know God has told us through His Word.

But who are we kidding? After all, God sees all and knows all, especially the motives in our heart.

And delayed obedience is disobedience and ...that's sin.

Instead of justifying our running away or escaping, why not recognize that God's way is the best way? After all, He has our best interests at heart.

Yes, we have choices to make since we have been given a free will. We can choose to satisfy our own flesh. Or we can submit to God's will for our life.

Will you do things the hard way like Jonah? Or will you simply listen to God in the first place?

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