Heart Choices: August 2009

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Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ The Prayer

It's Then Sings My Soul Saturday and I link up with Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders.

I have a list of songs that I accumulate during the week but I usually decide on Friday which one to use. It depends on what's going on in my life, my world or maybe what I'm learning in my walk with the Lord.

I had actually planned to use a different song today but felt that this song represents ...what I've been feeling lately.

This song is called "The Prayer" and the words express much about my own response to what is going on in the United States today.

God is being taken out of everything. No prayer at school. Tolerance has become the buzzword. As never before, I do believe we need to stand together as Christians and fight for the Truth. But as this song reminds me that ...it needs to be done in love.

Rod Stone is a singer and songwriter who is a Christian. I encourage you to visit his website called "Stuff I Believe In". Here is his song called "The Prayer":


Fitness Friday ~ Get Started

It's another Fitness Friday and that means I link up with Sandy of God Speaks Today and Sarah of No Pain, No Gain.

Some of you are regular exercise bunnies.

But I happen to know that some of you say you're gonna start but haven't quite gotten around to it ...yet.

You know all the excuses. The summer is too hot. The winter is too cold.

If you wait for perfect weather to exercise, you're never going to do it!

The American Heart Association has a Start Program to help people begin to exercise and make healthier lifestyle choices. I encourage you to check out their website.

They have compiled a list of 10 ways to Start! moving:

  1. Park far away from the entrance to the mall, your office or the store.
  2. Walk instead of driving to nearby destinations. You don't have to drive to pick up your mail you know.
  3. Instead of using the elevator, take the stairs.
  4. Meet a friend for a walk instead of eating out or seeing a movie.
  5. Build a before lunch or after dinner walk into your routine
  6. Replace one 30-minute TV sitcom with your daily walk. I like to watch TV while I walk on my treadmill.
  7. When you go shopping, walk one or two laps around the mall before making your purchases. Often the malls open early for walkers.
  8. While waiting at your gate for your flight, walk around the airport for 10 minutes.
  9. Walk with your family for extra bonding time - and bring along the dog.
  10. Take walking breaks at work or set up walking meetings.

I'll bet that you can add more to this list. How about it?

I heard that Sandy is writing about a little of this and a little of that ...as only Sandy can do. And Sarah is writing about everything in moderation. Hmm ... that's what my mom used to always say. So check them out!


Thankful Thursday ~ Rescue

It's Thankful Thursday and my good friend Iris is our host at Grace Alone. The theme she chose is ...rescue.

I'm so thankful that I've been rescued from myself. I was born a sinner but I've been saved by the blood of Jesus. He paid my account in full so now ...I have peace with God.

Life may not be easy but I know I'm never alone. I live by faith in the One who saved me.

My heart is joyful as I allow this truth to sink in. This world isn't my home; I'm just passing through.

In the meantime, I'm amazed that God uses me in this world as a vessel for His Kingdom plans.

A person who is drowning can panic and fight the one who is attempting to rescue him. Jesus is our hope of rescue and ...He is trustworthy.

I'm so thankful that I can quit fighting and make the choice to submit my life to Him and then He can work in and through me ...to reach others.

Isn't that an awesome privilege to be used by God for His purposes?

You can link to Iris at Grace Alone to join in our visit other participating blogs on this Thankful Thursday.


Exemplify Online

This is the cover of the August issue of Exemplify Magazine.

I know, I know. It's almost September so why am I writing about Exemplify's August issue?

Because I'm so far behind in my reading that ...I'm just now getting around to it.

I wanted to share a few tidbits about Exemplify with you.

The editor-in-chief is Kristen Schiffman. By the way, she's originally from Long Island and ...so am I.

Kristen wrote a blog post in June called Sweet Home as she was getting ready for a trip to visit family on Long Island.

I left a comment and mentioned that I was from that neck of the woods too. She sent me the nicest message back and said she was familiar with Lindenhurst (my home town) and that she also lived off Montauk Highway but further east. I grew up living across the street from the canal where the clam boats docked before heading out into the Great South Bay.

From what I've read about Kristen, she's a newlywed and living in Texas of all places! (I'll bet that's where her hubby is from.)

Anyway, there are a few more reasons why I love Exemplify Online magazine. Here are a few:

  • It's free!
  • You can download it to your computer.
  • Or you can read it on the Exemplify Online website.
  • Each issue has a theme and August's theme is "Holiness".
  • There are an assortment of writers so there's something for everyone.

Paula Whitehouse wrote a featured article called "Living Holy".

I found Paula about seven months ago when I stumbled upon a post she wrote on her blog Paula's Sharing Spot. I can't remember the topic right now but it was just what I needed to read at that moment and let her know. Although she lives far away in Brisbane, Australia - it's such fun to make friends online.

Don't you just love the internet and how we're using it for good and for ministry?

In her article, Paula wrote:

"God wants us to live with a clean heart and a new spirit, and it is He alone who can help us to achieve this."
You've got to read it for yourself.

And if that weren't enough reasons to read Exemplify, here's another.

Elaine Olsen of Peace for the Journey is another writer. If you follow Elaine's blog, you know what a prolific writer she is. She always gets me thinking so I need to allow extra time to read her posts. But I just love her and have come to know her as she shares from her heart.

Elaine wrote an article in the August issue called "Walking My Holy". I took a little excerpt from it.

"We may think that our holiness is dependent upon our efforts, but in the end, it is God's efforts in us, through the power of his Holy Spirit, that warrants the applause and "well done" of heaven."
So, have I captured your interest yet? I'm sure the September issue will be coming out very soon. Be sure to visit Exemplify Online and read all about it.


Life Isn't Easy

Life isn't easy! I used to wonder what was wrong with me.

I really don't watch many of those TV preachers but there are some who claim that as a Christian, I should have:

  • Good health
  • Wealth and prosperity
  • Happiness

Hmm ...what am I doing wrong?

I had poor health as a child but now my health is good.

I've had poverty, wealth, more wealth and not much wealth.

I've had many moments of happiness but also many moments of sadness and even some depression.

My life seems to be a series of ups and downs. No smooth sailing for me! What is wrong with me?

Listen to what the Bible says:

1 Peter 4:12-13 "Dear friends, do not be suprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed."

There are times when I've suffered because of the consequences of the poor choices I've made.

There are other times when I've suffered because of someone else's sin.

But there are also times when I suffer and ...I don't know the reason.

So, what do I do? I choose to pray for God's wisdom and strength. It seems I learn to depend more and more on Him when I go through my trials. And I hate to admit this, but I learn the most important lessons when I'm going through difficult circumstances.

I've learned that He will supply what I need for this day. By faith, I believe it and so I'm able to persevere and trust Him. I take it day by day and often ...moment by moment.

How about you? Has it been smooth sailing for you? Or do you find lots of struggles in your life? What do you learn when you go through difficult and challenging circumstances? How do you choose to respond? Have you become bitter or better?


From The Inside Out

I've been on a 7 day journey with 25 blogging friends called Ladies on a Mission. My good friend Lisa Shaw has been leading us in a time of ...laying it all down.

God has been pruning each one of us of things that need to go.

Many of us have held on to past hurts, the "what if's" and "should have's" in our lives.

During this process, Lisa has encouraged us to pray for one another. What a blessing that has been!

I know that so much good will come out of these 7 days that will ...impact my life.

(photo credit: John @Picasa)

In this process of laying it all down, I've found that ...it's exhausting.
There's so much emotionally going on from the inside out as I pour out my heart to the Lord. I want to share some of the things I've learned in the days to come with you. But right now, I'm still absorbing it all.

I wish we could sit together and enjoy some friend time. Can't you just picture us here?

(photo credit: Martha Stewart)

We could sit and talk about what we're learning and enjoy the view and the moment. No rush to get to our next scheduled meeting or to run errands. Just spending time together enjoying the moment and the beauty of God's creation.

Do you ever find yourself longing for a time of rest and quiet with no interruptions?


Heart Choices in Alltop

Featured in Alltop

Have you heard of Alltop? I was so excited when I received a notification that I was accepted as one of their blogs listed in ...the "Christianity" category!

Woo hoo!

If you're not familiar with them, I'll give you the scoop on Alltop.

Alltop is described as an online magazine rack. You can go to this one online place and choose a topic of interest to you. The topics range from health, tech, news, sports, celebrities, politics, and probably just about anything you might find interesting.

Guy Kawasaki is the co-founder of Alltop. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. How bad can that be? He has a BA from Standford and an MBA from UCLA. Guy started his career with Apple.

In the late 90's, he founded Garage Technology Ventures which is an early stage venture capital firm. They focus on making investments in tech companies.

And did I mention that he's authored 9 books! His latest book is called Reality Check.

Guy is a "friend" of mine on Facebook. However, I must say in all honesty that I doubt he knows who I am. LOL. And I follow him on Twitter since he posts great links.

Anyway, I just want to say a big thank you to Alltop and Guy Kawasaki for accepting Heart Choices. I love to meet new readers and bloggers and ...share from my heart.

Remember that your day to day choices determine what your tomorrows will become. So make healthier choices!

And if this is your first visit to Heart Choices, be sure to check out my About Page.

And don't forget to check out Alltop today!


Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ I Surrender All

Since it's Saturday ...it must be "Then Sings My Soul Saturdays".

I'm joining with Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders and you can link there to join us or find other participating blogs. Listen and enjoy and sing right along.

My choice of songs for this week was easy. If you follow Heart Choices, you know that I've been participating in Ladies on a Mission with my good friend Lisa Shaw. We're in the midst of 7 days of laying it ALL down.

How often we women are so burdened with things that we need to lay down at the feet of Jesus and ...not pick them up again?

I'm not usually a very emotional person but I have to say this has been a bit tough for me. However, I do believe this process is going to be so good for me.

I'm ready to lay it ...ALL down!

How about you? It's not too late to join us.

My song for TSMSS is: I SURRENDER ALL. The words to this song say it all.


Fitness Friday ~ 7 Day Challenge

It's Fitness Friday and as you know by now, I join with Sandy of God Speaks Today to focus on all things fitness and healthy living.

Do you ever find yourself eating just because? You're not even hungry but ...maybe something sweet will help.

Or what about an ice cream cone? Or a few potato chips but it becomes a bag of potato chips?

Now, I do believe in moderation.

Once in a while, I enjoy something sweet or salty. But when we begin to find that we're developing a habit of looking to a substance or food or a pill or a drink to fill a need or a void then ...it can become a problem.

This week I chose to join with my friend Lisa Shaw on her Living a Fit Life. I posted a bit about it earlier this week here.

Lisa is passionate about living a life of freedom in Christ. Too many women still hang on to the garbage in their lives. And so she has set aside 7 days for us women to encourage one another and pray for one another. She's been posting videos and frankly ...I'm excited about this.

I want you to know that during this week I continue to walk on my treadmill and drink lots of water.

But I'm also spending more time in prayer and opening up my heart to uncover the cover up. You know the way we try to look good on the outside but ...so much is going on inside.

  • Past hurts
  • Fear
  • Betrayal
  • People pleasing
  • Procrastination
  • Laziness
  • Pride
  • Selfishness
  • Unforgiveness

I don't want to allow anything to keep me down and prevent me from living a life of freedom in Him.

Hebrews 12:1 says "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

Let's not allow anything to hold us back and instead ...deal with it.

It's not too late to join us at Lisa's. And of course, Sandy will have a great Fitness Friday post too.


Thankful Thursday ~ Friends

Today is Thankful Thursday and Iris of Grace Alone is hosting. Be sure to visit Iris and add your links to join in or to visit other participating blogs.

I'm so thankful for the blessing of friendship.

I can finally say that I REALLY do know Iris. And she is a great friend and fun and nice and ...easy to talk to. She lives in Arizona and so I know I'll be seeing her again and I love that.

OH and by the way, did you know that Iris has such a talent for photography? YES, she does.

And my second blessing was to actually meet Lori of Lori's Reflections. Lori was my very first blogging friend. I've already met her mom, sister and niece several months ago but this was our first face to face meeting.

And I have to say ...I wasn't disappointed at all. Lori is wonderful, fun, kind and I know we'll be friends forever. And she has such a geeky side to her. I know I can learn lots from her.

The three of us had such fun together on Monday. You'd never know it was our first face to face. We had so much to talk about.

Friendship is truly a gift from God. I'm so thankful for my friends. And even those who aren't at all into my "blogging thing". I still love you even if ...you don't leave comments. :(

So on this Thankful Thursday, I want to thank the Lord for my friends. And I can't wait to meet more bloggy friends in the future.


Ladies On A Mission

I am participating in "Ladies on a Mission" for the next 7 days.

My good friend Lisa Shaw is posting daily on her Living a Fit Life and you're welcome to join in. You don't have to be a blogger to participate. But you do have to be a woman. Sorry guys!

Too often we women pray and lay things at Jesus' feet only to find over time ...we've picked it back up again.

It's time to be set free!

There's nothing like joining together with other women so we can pray and encourage one another.

Lisa Shaw is a sweet sister who shares from her heart and she's a mighty prayer warrior. And talk about an encourager ...I think that's her middle name.

If you wish to find out more about Ladies on a Mission, here are a few links to check out:

So, I hope that you will choose to join in with us for a 7 day adventure and lay it all down ...for good.


Bloggy Friendships

Guess what I got to do today? I had lunch with Lori of Lori's Reflections and Iris of Laced with Grace and Grace Alone!

I was so excited! Lori was visiting family in the Phoenix area and so she arranged this meet up with Iris. It was the first time I met either one of them ...in person.

But let me tell you. I love these women. We've been following each other's blogs and so we already knew each other. But there's always a little bit of anxiety before meeting someone you know online. Some of you know what I'm talking about, don't you?

But check out these pictures we took:

We had so much fun ...talking and talking!

And get this. Lori picked me up at my house and when I opened the door ...we were dressed alike!

Can you believe it? We started laughing because we both had black tops and white capris along with black flip flops. And no, it wasn't planned.

And then when we arrived at Sauce (the name of the restaurant), Iris was wearing white and black too. Only she had a white top and black slacks. Only bloggers, right?

Besides blogging we have a common love for our Lord and that makes all the difference. I'm so thankful for both Lori and Iris. And meeting them in person only caused me to love them more.

Have you had an opportunity to meet other bloggers yet?


I'm At Laced With Grace

Today, I'm over at Laced with Grace. If you've never visited this women's devotional site, you need to do so today. And we always love to start conversations ...so please leave your comments.

We always love to read what you have to say. And trust me, you don't have to be the best writer; just share what's on your heart.

I'm also excited about today because I get to meet two of my favorite bloggers ...in person.

Iris started Laced with Grace and is also responsible for Thankful Thursday. And Lori of Lori's Reflections was my very first blogging friend. She's visiting family in Arizona so we're getting together.

I can't wait and of course, I'll post about it with photos.

Until then, I hope you'll visit me today on Laced with Grace.


Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ We Believe

It "Then Sings My Soul Saturday" and I'm linking up with Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders. We share a song for the week that has meaning for us and link to one another. You'll find a variety of songs by linking to Amy.

Last week as I was blog hopping, I came across an artist that I hadn't heard in some time. It was Steve Green singing "The Mission". I used to love singing the words to that song. So thank you Peggy of the blog Mission for posting that one last week.

I'm posting another Steve Green song called "We Believe". This was actually taped in my church in Phoenix but I wasn't yet a member then. It's another beautiful song so I hope you'll enjoy and ...sing along.

I feel like standing up and praising God as I listen to this one. Happy Saturday and remember ...Sunday's coming!


Do You See the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

On this Fitness Friday post, I'd like to talk about attitude. That's right; you heard me ...attitude!

So, here's a question for you. Are you a naturally positive or a negative person?

We each have natural inclinations that may be influenced by:

  • Upbringing
  • Genetics
  • Circumstances
  • Social surroundings
  • Environmental surroundings

Are you naturally optimistic and see the glass as half full?

Or do you have a tendency to be more pessimistic and see the glass as half empty?

The latest news is that ...your attitude may impact your health.

The American Heart Association's medical journal called Circulation recently reported on a new research study. The results were that:

Women who were optimistic have a lower risk of developing heart disease or dying from any cause ...when compared to pessimistic women.

The lead physician in this study was Dr. Hilary A. Tindle, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. Here's a quote of hers regarding the study:

"The majority of evidence suggests that sustained, high degrees of negativity are hazardous to health."

Hmm ...that's something to pay attention to, especially if you happen to be one of the women who tend towards being more negative. The method of defining optimism versus pessimism involved answering questions.

Optimists tended to answer yes to: "In unclear times, I usually ...expect the best."

Pessimists tended to answer yes to: "If something can go
wrong for me ...it will."

Now, the world may say that you can't change who you are. But I say that with God ALL things are possible.

I love the book of Proverbs. Here are a few verses to consider from chapter 15:

Verse 30 "A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones."

Verse 13: "A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit."

There may be lots of negative things going on in our world today. But we do have a choice as to ...how we respond.

In the midst of trying times, may I offer a few suggestions?

  • Be on the lookout for what you can be thankful for. For me, writing a weekly Thankful Thursday post has helped me to look for the positive.
  • Keep a sense of humor. My mom used to always have a new joke to tell us. It was so good to laugh.
  • Take time out to journal your feelings of frustration or sadness or joy
  • Pray and tell God all that's on your heart. He knows anyway but wants us to come to Him.
  • Spend time with a friend who is positive.
  • Go for a walk and notice the beauty of nature
  • Swim laps
  • Hike up a mountain
  • Watch comedies

OK, now it's your turn. My list isn't complete but maybe you could help me out?

How do you keep positive? If you are naturally pessimistic how do you handle this? Do you have any tips to share?

And by the way, don't forget to SMILE! You'll be surprised how smiling can change the way you feel and your attitude. And I've heard ...it can be very contagious.

And don't forget to visit Sandy at God Speaks Today for another one of her Fitness Friday posts. You'll be glad you did. She's writing about eating healthy on a tight budget. And I think we can all learn something from Sandy on this topic.


Thankful Thursday ~ Hope

It's Thankful Thursday and my friend Iris of Grace Alone is hosting. I'm writing this one before I have the chance to see what Iris will choose as our thankful Thursday theme.

But this time I decided ...I'm going against the grain. (Friends who know me well won't be suprised; LOL)

I feel compelled to share about ...HOPE!

These are challenging times in our world today. I read about people who have marriage problems, financial problems, health issues, death and ...taxes.

These are very real problems. I do understand better than many may know. The reality is that we live in a world that's been mired and soiled by sin ever since Adam and Eve.

But as a Christian, I know this isn't my real home. I'm just passing through. And one day when my life here is over, I will find that in terms of time it was just a blink of an eye. It helps me to keep perspective.

Then when people ask me how I can deal with the issues I'm going through, I can point to my relationship with Jesus. That is the reason I can have HOPE!

And I always try to do it with gentleness and respect. As I go through my trials, I want to stay close to Him. When I listen and obey then ...He will get the glory!

Remember Peter who eagerly began to walk towards Jesus on top of the water. When he kept his eyes on Jesus ...he was fine.

But when Peter chose to take his eyes off of Jesus and looked down at his circumstances ...he began to sink.

Where do you choose to focus in the midst of these challenging times?

On this Thankful Thursday, I choose to be thankful for HOPE. And the object of my hope is ...Jesus.

You can visit other Thankful Thursday posts by linking to Iris at Grace Alone.


Wednesday's Walk ~ Haiti Mission Trip

Today is Wednesday and I'm joining Lynnette of Dancing Barefoot ...on Weathered Ground for Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane.

I'd like to share some memories of a mission trip to Haiti. It was 1980 and a very turbulent time in Haiti's history. I know I'm dating myself but ...that's OK.

I was sitting in church one Sunday and the pastor was telling us about the desperate need in Haiti. I was living in Florida at this time. Pastor Charlie asked the congregation to pray about how we might help. He had received a cry for help from a pastor in Cape Haitian. By the end of the service, almost everyone was in tears and I was ready to sign up and go. After all, I was a nurse.

Little did I know that my parents and my Uncle Ivar and his wife signed up too. There were about 25 of us, along with Pastor Charlie Martin and his wife Stephanie.

We arrived at Port au Prince Airport and boarded a rickety old bus that looked like it would fall apart. We drove for several hours sitting on seats that were broken and the springs were sticking out. The roads were rough as our bus navigated around hairpin turns and along mountain edges. A little scary for me but who could complain? When I got a glimpse of how the majority of people lived in Haiti, I was overcome with such sadness.

In 1980, Jean-Claude Duvalier (or Baby Doc as he was nicknamed) was the President. His father had been the previous President and had been loved by the majority of the people. But when Baby Doc came into office, he married a woman named Michele Bennett, who was a mulatto divorce with a questionable background. The wedding cost about $3 million US dollars. Meanwhile, the peasants lived ...in extreme poverty.

These were the kinds of shacks in which many lived. This was also a time of great fear because of the outbreak of AIDS. In 1980, there was much misinformation about this disease. And at the same time, there was a scare over the African Swine Flu (ASF). It plagued pigs in this area and there was widespread fear because it was contagious and fatal. The US was concerned it would spread to our country. So Baby Doc had the Haitian pigs slaughtered. The peasants were very upset about this because ...it was their livelihood.

Prior to departing on this trip, I had to obtain all kinds of immunizations including malaria shots. Here I am working in a makeshift medical clinic as the women brought their babies for treatment. The mortality rate for babies was so high. There were so many tiny coffins that were made and I could see them in the villages. Many contracted malaria and the little children's bellies were swollen from malnutrition. I remember feeling so helpless by the overwhelming needs. There was a great voodoo influence in Haiti along with many superstitions. I could almost feel this dark influence.

My dad and uncle joined the construction crews to help build housing for the pastor of the Baptist church.

The Haitian pastor got all dressed up for Sunday services, despite the heat and humidity. There was no air conditioning either and the services lasted for hours.

But these people didn't complain. They were so excited to have the opportunity to worship God. I never heard people sing with such joy. I had seen where they lived and the death and poverty that surrounded them every day, along with the evil influences. And yet, here they were ...singing their hearts out to the Lord.

My mom always had a way with the little children.

And here she is getting ready to get on the back of a mule. We rode the mules to the top of a mountain to a deserted fortress that overlooked the ocean. What a view!

We eventually arrived back home but I knew I would never be quite the same again. I remember thinking about all that I'd been blessed with. And after eating goat and pineapples for the entire time in Haiti, I lost about 10 pounds. Believe me, that's not the way to lose weight!

Maybe you've experienced a different culture or adopted children from countries such as this. I know that my heart was touched. And it causes me to be so grateful. This was an experience I've never forgotten. And it's a perfect post on the day before Thankful Thursday. Now how could I not have much to be thankful for?

I hope you'll visit Lynnette to link to other participating bloggers' posts on Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane.

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