Heart Choices: October 2009

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Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ Have Thine Own Way Lord

It's Then Sings My Soul Saturday when I link up with Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders. You can visit Amy and find other participating blogs.

For the past few days, I've been waking up with this song in my head. It's an old classic called "Have Thine Own Way Lord". I guess it's because of what's been going on in my life lately and where I am spiritually.

I'm learning to lay it ALL down and to trust the Lord in ALL things.

I love the beautiful landscape photos and the soothing music and lyrics in this video.

Happy Then Sings My Soul Saturday and thanks for visiting Heart Choices!


Fitness Friday ~ Self Esteem

It's Fitness Friday and I'd like to share a few thoughts about self-esteem. If you pick up any self-help book or magazine, you'll read how important it is to instill self-esteem in your children. And anyone who has had a dysfunctional childhood often suffers from low self-esteem.

While this issue may be very real for many, I think there's a different way to consider dealing with esteem.

If you're a Christian you can have ...God esteem!

Just think about it. The one true living God created you and loves you.

When I wrap my mind around that and realize that it's all about His grace and mercy and I've done nothing to deserve it ...I'm absolutely amazed!

Self-esteem? No way. I don't need to puff myself up and tell myself how good I am. I certainly didn't deserve to be saved and loved by God. But He sent His Son to this earth to pay for my sins. And all I did was ...receive this free gift of salvation.

He loves me (and you) that much. Isn't that special?

And because of that I have ...true freedom.

Not freedom as the world suggests. But peace with God. I don't have to try to gain His approval.

Because of all He's done for me, I have such an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and love. I want to give myself fully to Him in response.

Listen to this love letter I read this morning entitled "My Princess ..Walk in My Confidence". It's from Sheri Rose Shepherd's book His Princess: Love Letters from your King:

"I know the world whispers in your ear that what you possess defines who you are, and what you look like determines your worth. This is a lie, My love. The generations to come will never remember you for the things you accumulate or the efforts you placed in your appearance. In fact, the harder you strive to collect more things and to perfect your image, the more insecure you will be about who you are and why you are here. I am in you and you are in Me. I will give you all that you need. Now go and walk through your world in the confidence that I've uniquely equipped you with all you need to impact the lives of those around you forever!


Your King and your Confidence

I don't know about you but I had to read that letter several times. It just blesses me so much.

(photo credit: Prevention)

Yes, we're all shaped differently. And we need to take proper care of our bodies as we are temples of the Holy Spirit. But it's about establishing a healthy lifestyle. We are free in Christ but we shouldn't use food or laziness as an excuse to indulge our flesh over and over again.

Just think about this.

Almighty God loves you and knows everything about you and ...He still loves you.

You've heard the expression "God makes no junk."

Well, you're special because of ...who you belong to.

You can have God esteem. Isn't that better than self-esteem?

Which would you rather have?

BTW, don't forget to hop over to Sandy's God Speaks Today for more Fitness Friday. She always has great stuff to share in her typical Sandy humor that I love. And Sarah of All Pain No Gain is joining us too so go check out her blog post too.


Thankful Thursday ~ Change

It's Thankful Thursday and Lynn of Spiritually Unequal Marriage is hosting. Lynn chose the theme of change for this week.

Whenever I hear the word change, my first instinct is fear. My natural tendency is towards stability and I tend to ...avoid change.

(Norwegian artist: Edvard Munch "The Scream")

I like to stay in my comfort zone. Even when change might be good for me, God often has to push me where I don't willingly want to go. I'm not one for taking lots of risks. And yet, right now I feel like I'm out on a ledge which is very scary.

But growing in faith requires me to trust and step out; not in my own strength ...but in the Lord's.

Even during this changing season in my life, I can be thankful as I see God at work:

  • My marriage has been growing in such a positive way. Often when people are going through a stressful time, couples can blame each other and fight. But Greg and I are growing closer and for that I'm so thankful.
  • Greg returned safely from a necessary trip to San Francisco with a major situation behind him. His flight was delayed by several hours because of a major dust storm in Phoenix. But the first thing he said when he came off the plane was how much he missed me. The woman he sat beside on the plane came up to me smiling and said Greg had told her all about me. She invited us to come to hear her husband play in his band. What a change because normally Greg does work on flights instead of being chatty. :)
  • My friend Terri and her husband Steve took me to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants called Postino's. We got to celebrate Steve's birthday which was fun.
  • The weather has been cooler in Phoenix. Yay God. It's exciting to turn off the air conditioning and open up the doors and windows.
  • I got to meet Sarah Dawn of Splashin' Glory and her family at their new home nearby. How thankful I was to have this opportunity to meet her and hug her in person.
  • On the way home from Sarah Dawn's I missed an exit on the freeway so I decided to use this opportunity to stop by my friend Sue's house which was close by. I meant to just say hi and get going but she and her husband Jim insisted I stay and have dinner with them. I'm so thankful for the fun time we had together!

I see the Lord at work in my circumstances. It's been rare for me to have any time to myself lately and yet He provided time for friendship this past week. He's been changing my husband's heart in such positive ways too.

So, instead of fearing change ...I will embrace it.

As long as I'm submitting each day to the Lord, I know He will guide me and teach me. And I'm learning to trust His perfect timing and His perfect ways more and more.


Following Her Dreams

Ever since I can remember, my niece Katie walked to a beat of her own. She's unique ...but in a good way.

She didn't particularly enjoy school but she always loved doing hair and makeup. And she loved to travel.

When she and her sister Kristin were growing up, I took many trips with them to places like Washington DC, San Diego, Malibu, and New York City. Uncle Greg joined us when we went to San Francisco and Las Vegas.

I remember the first time Katie went to NYC. She was gazing at all the tall buildings and people and ...shopping opportunities.

She said it wasn't what she had expected. At the time, I wasn't sure if that was good or not.

But guess where Katie lives?

In Brooklyn just across the bridge from Manhattan.

And she works in a hair salon. Go figure!

But I'm proud of her for following her dreams. Who knows how long she'll stay in the city but she's getting great experience, right?

Katie has always been a dog lover. She's one of those people who lays on the ground playing with her dog. And she talks baby talk to them too. LOL.
And Katie's getting to travel too. She grew up in Florida but now she's experiencing the different seasons. I can't believe she's actually in a corn maze.

But Katie is following her dreams and I respect her for that.

She's going to ask me how I got these photos that I didn't take. But that's what her Facebook is for, right?

Now when is she going to come and do her Aunt Debbie's hair?


In Other Words Tuesdays ~ Peace

I almost forgot that it was In Other Words Tuesday today so my post is up a bit later than usual. Patricia of Typing One-Handed is our host this week and she chose the following quote for us:

Peace seems to something that I've been seeking for some time now.

But I've found that TRUE PEACE is not found in:

  • An orderly house although I do function better that way
  • Relationships no matter how special they are
  • Acts of kindness although it can be such a blessing to give and to receive
  • Money in my bank account
  • A perfect marriage (Is there such a thing? LOL)
  • Well behaved children or not having children
  • Holding hands and singing "Give Peace a Chance" (yeah, I was a child of the '60s)
  • Attempting to control my circumstances when they're out of my control (ever tried that?)
  • Trying to focus on positive things when my mind is distracted and all over the place

In this verse of Scripture in John 14, Jesus says that ...He provides the peace.

He tells us to not let our hearts be troubled and not to be fearful. Only a relationship with Jesus can provide that true peace, no matter what the circumstances of my life may be.

But I have a choice to make. As a Christian, I have His Spirit within me. He provides me with all I need if ...I choose to listen and obey.

Or I can listen to my flesh that I must contend with on this side of eternity.

Will I choose His peace by listening to Him?

Or will I attempt to do it my way?

The choice seems easy but it's ...a moment by moment heart choice.

And I do desire this true peace that only Jesus provides.

How about you?


Meeting Sarah Dawn of Splashin' Glory

Have you met Sarah Dawn of Splashin' Glory? If you've not ...you need to read her blog. Sarah Dawn has an incredible way with words. It's like poetry for the soul and spirit. Her words often touch my heart.

I began following her blog when she "happened" to be state side for a period of time visiting family in Arizona. She wrote a comment on Heart Choices and I started reading about her family's life in Costa Rica as YWAM missionaries. Here's how Sarah Dawn describes herself on her profile:

" Just me, dancing in His rain on the mission field. Wife to my knight Ryan, mommy to little princes Joshua and Caleb, and adopting our princess from Ethiopia. Jeans and t-shirt prayer warrior, desiring to bring God's kingdom to earth and learning to hear the heartbeat of heaven. Come and splash around with me!"

I had the opportunity to meet Sarah Dawn ...in person today! Woo hoo!

Sarah Dawn and her husband Ryan felt the Lord calling them back to Arizona. So now they don't live too far from me.

Caleb was too cute and decided he'd be in the picture with us. Of course, his older brother Joshua got into the act too. The front of his shirt says "yo creo" or "I believe" and he proudly showed me the back that says "Y tu?" or "and you?"

What a pleasant afternoon it was! Sarah Dawn and I had the opportunity to share bits of our lives with one another. She has such a peaceful serene beautiful face and it's easy to feel comfortable in her presence. I'm probably old enough to be her grandmother. Well, maybe just her mother but that made no difference. We are sisters in the Lord and our bond is ...our love for Jesus.

We had the opportunity to pray together which was such a blessing. I can't wait to see what God has in store for this family as they are trusting His guidance. I learned much about living by faith as I listened to Sarah Dawn share with me.

As many of you know, I tend to struggle with control issues but I'm slowly learning to lay it ALL down. But it's a moment by moment battle at times. I love being around people who live a life of faith.

I encourage you to visit Splashin' Glory and tell Sarah Dawn that I sent you over. You'll love her too. And when we parted today, we agreed that we'd be getting together again. I look forward to that.


Coins, Blessing and Hope

You may be thinking what do coins, blessing and hope have to do with one another?

Well, let me share what happened to me on Friday.

For those who follow Heart Choices, you know I'm in the midst of a challenging season in my life. Yes, we all have those times in life. However, I've probably been more open and transparent lately than I've ever been.

My husband Greg loves old coins. He's been collecting them since he was a little boy. Whenever anyone in my family would ask what to buy Greg for a birthday or Christmas gift, I always told them "old coins".
I remember my mom asking if there wasn't something else to give him, but I told her that's what Greg loves. So, that's what he always got as a gift from our families. Greg's mom always found the best coins as she would shop the old coin dealers and excitedly wait as he opened her gift.

Years ago, we were robbed and many of Greg's coins were stolen. It took years to build up his supply of coins again.

Recently, we had a specific need and Greg told me to sell the coins. I felt so bad but he reminded me that they can always be replaced. After all, we went through losing them in the past. I was really sad but I visited coin shops and was finally directed to a place called C &C Coins in Phoenix.

As I walked into this shop, there were several older men who were bringing in their silver and coins to sell. I noticed that the owner of the shop was a young man and he treated each person with such kindness and dignity. He didn't seem to judge anyone by their outward appearance and seemed to know many by their first name. One older man left and forgot his package. So this owner ran outside and caught up with him at the traffic light. He returned to the store with ...a smile on his face.

He sorted through my coins and explained about their value. We got into a conversation about the economy and how busy he had become with people selling many silver and gold coins. But I noticed something different about him and I felt it in my spirit. As we continued speaking, he talked about material possessions and how meaningless they really are. I asked him if he was a Christian. He smiled broadly and said yes.

Ken is a man who was living a life of faith in action. He wasn't imposing his beliefs on others. But the way he treated people was so different from the world. He was kind and respectful. He seemed genuinely interested when he was speaking to each person.

As we continued interacting, he mentioned that he went to Grace Community Church in Tempe, Arizona. It turned out that we knew many of the same people, including one of my best friends Sue. In fact, he told me that she was bringing a neighbor to the shop that very afternoon! Coincidence? I believe it was ...a very special God moment for me.

I left that coin shop with more money than I had even hoped to obtain. But more importantly, I left with ...a renewed sense of hope.

I needed that special touch from God and he used a submitted vessel named Ken to do that.

The next morning, I received a phone call from Sue. She had been to the coin shop later that day and was so excited to hear about my encounter. And then Sue told me that Ken and her husband were serving in a ministry that very morning servicing cars for single moms ...for free.

Somehow, I wasn't surprised!

Sue and I had a good cry on the phone. They were tears of joy. Sue knows me very well and we've been there for each other through many situations. I met her about 15 years ago when I was her son Mikey's nurse. He was only in his late 20's when he died but I'll save that story for another post. Sue and I have continued our friendship over the years and we have Mikey to thank for that.

But I was so grateful that we could share this moment together. How awesome is our God who knows what we need ...just when we need it?


Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ Waiting on the Rain

It's Then Sings My Soul Saturday when I link up with Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders. I hope you take the time to blog hop along with us and sing and worship. It always lifts my spirit when I participate.

I had an unusually difficult week. I'm so grateful for my bloggy friends. You really are a wonderful community of friends who offer encourgement and prayer.

Jill of Forever N Ever N Always shared this song with me the other day and it was such a blessing. Thank you Jill for your prayers and words of encouragement!

Are you in a desert or a wilderness time? Are you waiting for the rain? Maybe the promises you hope to see haven't been fulfilled.

Don't give up HOPE! There will be times of draught and famine but by faith ...we can wait for the rain.

Happy TSMSS and thank you for visiting Heart Choices!


Walk with Him Wednesday ~ Surrender

holy experience

Last Wednesday was my first week participating in Walk with Him Wednesday, and I loved it. Ann Voskamp is our host and I have to say I've found myself drawn to her blog Holy Experience. It's like stepping back in time to peace and quiet and ...my soul seems to be craving that right now.

(Photo credit: House Beautiful)

I'm the kind of person who loved the Walton's. Growing up, nobody else in my family liked that show. After all, I was born and raised in New York. It was Long Island but we often spent time in the city since it was an hour train ride on the Long Island Railroad.

But as an adult, I always take the time to watch the Walton's Thanksgiving movie. Sometimes I think I should have been born in earlier times but then I remember they didn't shower often and forget about blow dryers and microwaves. So, I guess God knew what He was doing by allowing me to be born for ...such a time as this.

Ann suggests that we post ways we grow closer in our walk with the Lord each Wednesday. Last week, we wrote about ways that we slow down and are still. It was a good exercise for me and I enjoyed writing that post.

This week has been very trying for me. I've struggled more with being still and lapsed back into worry. Oh, I hate when I do that because I know better.

I pray and read my Bible each morning. I'm trying to develop a lifestyle of prayer. I'm even doing a study on Romans 12 with my Sunday morning small group at church.

Romans 12: 1-2 has become an almost daily prayer for me.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will."

So, what's my problem? I still keep struggling with control. I think I'm fully surrendered to the Lord. I give Him a blank check to do what He pleases with my life.

But then ...life gets in the way.

I get scared.

I can't control the reactions of the people closest to me.

I don't know what the future holds.

As I'm writing this, I have to smile because I know I do not have to fear or worry about being in control.

I serve a loving God who is the Creator and sustainer of all. And He is in control. Not me. Not the circumstances and challenges. And He knows me intimately and He still loves me. How much better can that be?

When I remember this, I am filled with hope, joy and peace. When I surrender it ALL and lay down ALL of the uncertainties ...I can rest in Him.

And then He can use me as His vessel to work in me and through me to touch others in love.


In Other Words Tuesdays ~ Getting Bumped

It's In Other Words Tuesday and Miriam of Miriam Pauline's Monologue is our host this week. She has chosen the following quote for us to write about today:

I have to say that this quote hit me right between the eyes! You see, I really want to be patient and kind and loving in all circumstances. But lately, I've been a bit surprised with ...what's been coming out of me.

When life is going along smoothly, it's easy to be sweet and nice and kind. But when you're going through those difficult seasons that never seem to end, I have to admit ...the tension can overwhelm me.

One of the things that helped me is remembering a teaching of Scott Samter of Opening His Word Together. It was on Romans 12 and Scott was describing how Christians have a choice.

Our spirit is alive in Christ but we still struggle with our flesh this side of eternity. He used an analogy of an AM and FM radio station. The AM station is Adam or presaved. The FM station is God's station.

Romans 12:1 talks about presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice. Scott said that the greatest warfare we deal with is between our ears. Every action starts with a thought.

Who will rule? Our spirit (FM station) or our flesh (AM station)?

This stuck with me and now when I find that when I'm reacting and speaking impatient and unloving words, I pause and recognize what's happening. I'm reacting out of my flesh (AM station). I go to 1 John 1:9 which is my spiritual bar of soap:

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

When I'm "bumped", my desire is to not react from my flesh (AM station) but to live with my dial set on my FM station.


Laced with Grace ~ Kindness

Kindness seems to be lost these days.

The other day, I was driving my car doing errands and I noticed how rude many drivers are. Everyone seemed to be in a rush. As I tried to navigate into the next lane of traffic, would anyone let me in? No way! And then I found myself behind a car in the left lane that was traveling the same speed as the car in the right lane. So I was stuck behind them both.

I'm over at Laced with Grace today so to continue reading this post, please hop on over...


Are You Weary?

Today has started out in a difficult way. I woke up early to drive to Scottsdale for my 6am appointment for a drug research study I'm participating in three mornings a week for seven weeks. I returned home to a list of work related activities that need to be done ASAP.

But I have to say ...I feel so weary!

The tune that kept coming to my mind as I tried to pray was "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus". I've sung this song since my childhood but it was a timely reminder for me right now.

Here's Alan Jackson singing it. For me, certain music can soothe my soul and calm me. The words have such truth to them.


Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ Be Still

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

This week the Lord was teaching me to ...be still.

I have such a tendency to run ahead of Him. I seem to think I'm so capable in my flesh. But that's not where I want to live. I want to abide in Christ and allow Him full access to ALL of me. When I do so, He directs my steps. And believe me, I need that guidance.

Happy Saturday to each one of you and thanks for visiting Heart Choices for TSMSS!


Fitness Friday ~ Body Image

It's another Fitness Friday. Sandy of God Speaks Today, Sarah of All Pain, No Gain and I decided to each write a post on the same theme. Our theme for this week is ...proper body image.

As women, we're constantly bombarded with messages on TV, billboards, and magazines about how we "should" look. It's so sad because we're seeing more eating disorders in young girls than ever before. It's unrealistic and unhealthy to look like many of the models that they try to emulate.

I posted this video earlier this year but if you missed it, it's really worth watching. If you think that models look so perfect, you need to take a few minutes to watch this.

Have you heard of Photoshop? If you have a little cellulite, that can easily be erased. A few wrinkles around your eyes? Instantly gone like magic.

And we wonder why women have poor body images?

Should we take care of our bodies? I believe we should. But for the right reasons.

If you're a Christian, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

If you're overweight, always tired and sluggish it can be hard to be about the work that you've been called to do. Personally, when I feel good and have energy, I'm much more eager to reach out to others.

But our body structures will be different. Some people have a larger bone structure and will never be a size 4 or 6. Another woman might have a smaller bone structure. We're each created differently.

I believe the important thing is to strive for a healthy lifestyle. Eating a variety of foods including many water rich foods like fruits and vegetables is healthy and lower in calories.

Foods like candy,cookies and chips may taste great but are empty calories with no nutritional value. And believe me, a handful has LOTS of calories.

Jesus walked everywhere He went except for the occasional boat trip. The disciples didn't have to be concerned about getting on a treadmill. They got lots of exercise from ...plain old walking.

Today we drive our cars everywhere. And of course, we have to get the parking spot closest because who wants to walk that far? We sit at our computers or watch TV and don't move around much. Kids can sit for hours playing video games. We need to get up and start moving more.

I've been reading a love letter each day from a book called His Princess: Love Letters from your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd. Listen to this letter on beauty.

"Your real beauty is a work of art - hand carved by Me. I have given you beautiful lips to speak words of life, beautiful eyes to see Me in everything, beautiful hands to help those in need, and a beautiful face to reflect My love to the world. I know you don't see yourself the way I do because you compare yourself to beauty idols that will soon be forgotten. I will work wonders that will radiate true beauty from within. And when my work is completed, your character will show off My craftsmanship, and your beauty marks will be remembered by all that were loved by you. Love, Your Radiant King"

Isn't that an awesome way to consider the beauty of each one of us in God's eyes? If we would only see ourselves as He sees us ...unique but greatly loved.

So, let's keep things in perspective. Take a walk, chose an apple (from the good tree) instead of those chips and remember that ...God loves you.


Thankful Thursday ~ Love in Action

Today is Thankful Thursday and Lynn of Spiritually Unequal Marriage is our host. Lynn is such a dear blogging friend of mine. She wrote about how many people seem to have a sense of entitlement these days. One way to pull that entitlement attitude into proper perspective is ...God's perspective.

In reality, I don't deserve anything. If it were not for my personal relationship with Jesus, my life would be miserable and I wouldn't have the hope of spending eternity with Him. Talk about depressing!

Despite any current trials and challenges, I have much for which I can be thankful. I have truly been encouraged by others this week.

I haven't been to my Sunday morning Bible study group for several weeks now. Each week, I plan to be there but with all of the current stress, I haven't made it. I'm so thankful for the prayers of my Life Group family and that they've not given up on me.

Check out this cartoon from Joyful Toons. That is exactly how I felt when I had a visit from my friend Marcia on Monday. Marcia is the group leader of my Bible study. Look at what she brought to surprise me!

Marcia presented me with an encourgement basket! I was so touched by the kindness of my friends. Many of them are going through their own difficulties and challenges and yet ... they gave from their heart.

I am not a very emotional person but I was truly touched and overwhelmed. I was at a loss for words. I have to say I prefer to be the giver of gifts. It can be difficult to receive but I want to do so graciously.

Besides lots of yummy goodies (Greg enjoyed them too), there were many envelopes with cards of well wishes. And did I mention the gift cards to restaurants. Walmart and Starbucks ...here we come!

I am blown away by the family of God. It was just like the Acts church. Not only do they love and encourage one another but they put that love in action. And I am one grateful and thankful woman.

My desire is to become so sensitive to others going through similar circumstances and be able to put my love in action too.

Thank you Life Group of North Phoenix. I love you and appreciate each one of you!

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