Heart Choices: November 2009

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Fitness Friday Giveaway Winner

So, who is the winner of the Fitness Friday giveaway?

Congratulations to Yoli of Apron Senorita.

You are the winner of the Healthy Cooking 3 disc set from Food Network.

Way to go Yoli!

I'll email you to obtain your address so I can mail your prize.

Have fun as you choose to cook healthy for you and your family!


Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ You Never Let Go

Happy Then Sings My Soul Saturday! I'm linking up with Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders so join in or feel free to go blog hopping with us.

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving and ...didn't overeat.

If you did, you may want to read my Fitness Friday post and ...there's a giveaway.

A fellow blogger told me about this song called "You Never Let Go" sung by Matt Redman.

Listen to the lyrics:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won't turn back
I know you are near.

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me

Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me.

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We'll live to know You here on the earth.


Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
still I will praise You, still I will praise You.

(Chorus 2x's)

Happy Saturday and thank you for visiting Heart Choices today.



Fitness Friday Giveaway

It's the day after Thanksgiving and it just happens to be ...Fitness Friday!

And no, I'm not going to skip it this week. Yes, many of you probably overate yesterday. After all, who can resist turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and oh so much more? I just hope you practiced a bit of portion control.

However, today's a new day. Don't give up trying to make healthy choices just because the holidays are here. That makes it so much harder for the New Year.

You can enjoy a few extras but still not go way overboard on the calories. And get outside and move. You can burn those calories.
  • Go for a walk
  • Hike a mountain
  • Ride your bike
  • Dust off your treadmill
  • Join a gym
  • Take a dance class

Find something you can enjoy and ...just do it!

The giveaway includes a 3 disc set of Healthy Cooking from Food Network. Yes, it can taste good and ...still be healthy.

The featured chefs include:

  • Ellie Krieger
  • Rachael Ray
  • Alton Brown

A few of the dishes they prepare include:

  • Tuscan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
  • Lentil Salad and Soup
  • Charred Chili Relleno with Green Rice
  • Plum Tart with Almond Pastry Crust

All you have to do to be entered is to leave a comment below. I will keep the comments open until Monday morning (early). I'll then figure out the random picker thing or else write numbers and pull them out of a bowl. Anyway, it will be a random thing. Just be sure to provide me with a way to notify you in case you win. If you have a blog and an email there, I will find you but if not give me a clue, OK?

I may even include another surprise in the package! You never know what you'll find. I love surprises!

Why not share something about your Thanksgiving this year? Did you decrease your serving sizes? Or did you go all out and figure you'll exercise more today?

I think we could all use a dose of reality and exhibit some self-control, especially at this time of year. So let's encourage one another.

Ask God to help you make healthier choices. After all, as we spend time in prayer and reading His Word, the fruit of the Spirit becomes more evident in us. And don't forget that self-control is on the list of the fruit of the Spirit.

Check out Sandy's God Speaks Today as I believe she's having a guest post. And Doylene of A Gracious Home has joined us this week so I hope you'll visit her too.


Thankful Thursday ~ Thanksgiving

I'm so glad that Iris decided to host a Thanksgiving edition of Thankful Thursday. Although I'm learning to live a grateful life by participating in Thankful Thursday each week, why not also post on Thanksgiving? Iris, thank you for this opportunity to share and visit other participating blogs.

I love Thanksgiving! I love it even more than Christmas because there's no need for gifts and I think the expectations are not as high. It hasn't become as commercial as Christmas. It's a day of truly ...being thankful.

So, I just want to share a few things that I'm especially thankful for today:

  • My cousin Mark's wife connected with me on Facebook. Donna took the time to write to me and arrange a phone call.
  • I was able to speak with my mother's only brother, my Uncle Ivar on the phone because of Donna. The last time I saw him was several years ago and I was so thankful for the opportunity to catch up.
  • I spoke with my cousin Mark today. He is such an adventuresome guy and when he graduated high school, he spent a year hitchhiking across the country. Mark was working in the building next to the Twin Towers on 9/11 and was one of the people covered in white dust running after the collapse of the buildings. I heard his story when I last saw him at his niece's wedding in Charlotte about 10 years ago.
  • Greg's family will be getting together at his sister Amy's house for Thanksgiving dinner. We haven't all been together for some time so we're both looking forward to it.
  • My family who lives in Florida will all be getting together at my sister Christine's house who carries on our family traditions.
  • BTW, Christine's vision is much better but not completely healed. So please keep praying for a complete healing.
  • I'm so thankful for my friends and especially my blogging friends who have given me such encouragement through these difficult times.
  • I'm so thankful for the awesome couple who has provided a home for Greg and me once we sell our house. I know you don't want any public accolades but Greg and I are so very thankful.
  • I'm so thankful for my personal relationship with the Lord. I don't know how I would get through this past year without Him.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! And thank you for taking the time to visit Heart Choices.

Now don't forget to stop by tomorrow and check out my first Heart Choices giveaway. I hope to see you then.

Blessings to each one of you and enjoy your Thanksgiving,


Announcing a Fitness Friday Giveaway

I love giveaways! And I think it's about time I had my first giveaway on Heart Choices.(Photo Credit: Teleflora)

I decided to host this giveaway the day after Thanksgiving which also happens to be ...Fitness Friday.

While many people may be busy fighting the crowds looking for sales in the stores, why not stay home and be inspired?

Blog hopping is fun and ...much less expensive.

I know how easy it is to indulge in way too many calories on Thanksgiving. But I don't want you to give up on making healthy choices just because it's the holiday season.

I'll give you a few hints about what I'm offering:

  • It will help you to cook healthier.
  • You may recognize a few cooks from TV.
  • Just because something is healthy doesn't mean it can't taste good.

I don't want to give it away because I want you to return this coming Friday.

To be eligible to win you must add a comment on my Fitness Friday post this week. I'll keep the comments open until Monday morning and then do a random drawing.

If you have a no reply comment, be sure I have a way to get in touch with you so I can notify you and get your address to send the prize.

While many of us are going through our struggles this year, we've so much for which to be thankful. Let's not forget that.

Iris of Grace Alone will be hosting Thankful Thursday tomorrow. BTW, if you missed my interview with Iris you can read it here.

I also shared a few tips to live out your faith despite having to deal with imperfect people yesterday. You may need a little inspiration before hosting your family gathering so if you like you can read it here.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!


In Other Words Tuesdays ~ Live Out a Life of Gratitude

It's In Other Words Tuesday and Tami of The Next Step is our host this week. Tami chose the following quote for today:

As Thanksgiving is only several days away, the topic of being thankful is on many of our minds. It is good to be thankful. We may each express our gratitude in different ways.

We may have our thankful lists but do we really ...live out a life of gratitude?

How do you react when:
  • Your elderly aunt keeps telling you the same story over and over again
  • Nobody seems to be around to help when it's time to clean up after the Thanksgiving meal
  • You seem to work and work to make the perfect Thanksgiving meal but don't receive the praise you were seeking
  • The person who agreed to bring the dessert fails to show up
  • Your family just doesn't seem to get into the thankful lists you hoped they would each share
  • Your uncle turns the ballgame on and doesn't talk to anyone

Maybe you can add your own version of the disappointments that can occur when families gather together. We want it to be perfect but often they are not.

Will you consider taking time this Thanksgiving to spend time early in the morning with the Lord?

Make time before the guests arrive and the meal needs to be prepared and quiet yourself before Him.

The more time you spend with the Lord, the more you will reflect Jesus to others. The fruit of the Spirit will become more evident to others. And that fruit is a byproduct that requires no words. It is seen by others.

Will you commit to ...live out what you believe?

Will you be thankful ...despite imperfect people?

May your gratitude be lived out in your life as you exhibit:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-control

I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving that is filled with thankfulness.


Lifelong Learner Interview ~ Iris

Are you a lifelong learner? Or have you arrived at a point in your life where you feel you've learned all you need to know?

I am a committed lifelong learner. I can say that I don't know it all and I'm very open to growing and learning. I really have to credit Pastor Dan with that as he so often challenges us to be lifelong learners.

I'm always on the lookout for people who share this passion for learning and so I decided to write a series on Lifelong Learners.

And I'm so excited that my first interview is with Iris Nelson. I even had the opportunity to meet her in person when Lori of Lori's Reflections was visiting family in the Phoenix area.

Many of you may know her from her Christian website called Laced with Grace. I am honored and humbled to be one of the monthly writers on this site. Or you may know of Iris from the meme she began on her personal blog Grace Alone.

Iris started Thankful Thursday and I cannot begin to tell you how that has truly helped and blessed me. I am constantly aware of things for which I can be thankful throughout my week since I know I will be writing about it on Thursday. It can really help to change your perspective ...in a positive way.

So, without further ado, let me introduce ...Iris Nelson.

1. Iris, I know that you were born in Germany. Would you mind sharing how you came to the US? Did you have to learn the language, customs, etc?

Yes, Debbie, I was born and raised in Germany (still have my German citizenship as well). Coming to the US I believe truly was a God thing. God placed me here in the Desert to get to know Him. Although I grew up with Christian values, God needed me away from all my family and friends to truly understand what it means to live by grace alone and act upon it.

2. Tell us a bit about your family.

I met my beloved 1983 in Bremerhaven, Germany. He was stationed with the US Army in my home-town. In 1985 our one and only son, Daniel was born on German soil (he has dual citizenship). 1991 was the worst year to date for me personally. In February Daniel and I joined my husband here in Arizona. In March of the same year, my dad passed away after he lost his battle with cancer. I think the worst for me was that I was unable to attend his funeral. But I know that I will see him again in heaven :) - My entire family (mom, sister, niece, nephew etc) live all in Hannover. I wish I could see them more often.

3. Would you share about how you came to know Jesus as your Savior and Lord?

As I mentioned, I grew up in a Christian home (my great-grandfather was a pastor in the Lutheran Church). We went to church every Sunday, and all special church holidays. In my late teens I started to rebel against everything that had to do with faith, church ..My story is like the parable of the prodigal son Jesus talks about in Luke 15. I needed to be away from the comfort of my family to see that I needed Jesus more than anything in my life. I hit rock bottom in 1995. Someone I used to work with invited me to a Christmas Eve service that year. After that service I knew I had to find a church home - and I did. Yes, God took care of me even during my rebellious years - He never let go of me (even though I was unfaithful to Him). He sent people into my life when I needed Him most ...He totally rocks - don't you agree? (btw, yes I do agree)

4. What is your professional background and training? Your work at present?

My professional background is accounting. I still work in the same field, just with different companies.

5. Please share about your love for photography. How did this come about? Do you take classes?

Sadly I have never taken any classes, pretty much self-taught. I do read a lot and look at photos of professional photographers to learn - I am a visual learner ...I always liked photography. I remember getting a camera from my dad in the early 70's. Most of the photos I took early on were from vacation spots in Europe traveling with my parents. When our son was born I took a gazillion photos. But love for it I discovered after our son moved out 2 years ago. My husband and I had to find a hobby we both enjoyed - photography it was. I never thought that I would get this passioned about it. I started with a Sony 'Point-And-Shoot', but upgraded to a Canon last year. Only this year I started to take portrait photos. The funny thing: I am a very shy person. Being shy and directing people to stand where I need them - oh my. Talking about getting totally out of my comfort zone. Another God thing though - He stretches me - He helps me to be confident in what I do. I pray before every session to calm my nerves.

Wow; I don't know about you but I'm so glad that Iris agreed to open her heart and be real. That's another area I'm becoming more passionate about too. So often we look at someone who seems to have it ALL together but the reality is that none of us really do.

It takes courage to step out in faith and get out of our comfort zones. And Iris is ...stepping out in faith!

She's so talented and is depending on the Lord. I encourage you to visit her photography website called Iris Nelson Portraits. And if you live in Arizona, you might consider contacting her for a family or graduation portrait. I had to get that plug in (sorry).

Iris, I'm so proud and thankful to call you a friend. I admire your determination but also how you recognize your dependence upon the Lord. After all, He has gifted you. He will use you for your good and ...His glory!

And thank you for being the first Lifelong Learner interview.

So what do you think of Iris and her photography? I hope to share your comments with Iris to encourage her.


A Mother's Love

Have you ever had moments when you wished you could go back and sit on your mother's lap and tell her all that was going on in your life? Although I'm much too old to do that, I would love to sit and talk to my mom over a cup of coffee and some Norwegian waffles.

It will be five years in February since I lost my mom. I know I will see her again one day in heaven but in the meantime I miss feeling her arms about me, especially with Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching. I miss her more during these times of celebration.

I was searching through old photos and happened upon this one. I think I was a senior in high school at the time so it would have been about 1971.

Being comforted by my mom ...was always the best medicine.

On her last visit to my house in Phoenix, she was celebrating her 75th birthday. She was in so much pain and was becoming more weak and frail which was so unlike how she'd been most of her life. I allowed my parents to use our master bedroom which was downstairs so it would be easier on her.

But one evening, I heard slow shuffling footsteps coming up the stairs. Standing in the doorway stood my mom in her bathrobe. She walked over to me as I was sitting on the bed and held me in her arms and cried. My heart was breaking and bursting at the same time.

I have not cried for such a long time. And even then, I couldn't cry but certainly felt such emotions of love. My mom sensed I needed a hug and she persisted in walking up those steps to be by my side. Oh, how I could use one of her hugs right now. I miss her even more.

I thought it would get easier as time has gone by but I think with Thanksgiving and Christmas soon upon us, I have so many memories of her.

So, what did I do today? I pulled out my mom's index file of recipes. My sister sent them to me so I'd have them in her handwriting and her typing.

And then I made Norwegian waffles, of course.

Out came my mixer and the flour, sugar, milk, eggs, melted butter, sour cream and baking soda.

Voila ...out came Norwegian waffles! But when I tasted the first batch something was missing. I realized I forgot the secret ingredient ...cardamom.

Norwegian waffles absolutely need to have cardamom. Once I added that one ingredient, it was amazing at how much better they tasted.

Hmm ...I think there's a spiritual lesson here.

I too need a special ingredient and it's called the Holy Spirit. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, this Spirit is the deposit and I can know I belong to Him.

My mood is lifting because I am reminded that I am never alone. And then I also remember that I WILL see my mom again. We will have so much to talk about.

I wonder if there will be Norwegian waffles in heaven? What do you think?

If you are a bit conflicted with the arrival of this holiday season due to losses or difficulties, know that ...you are not alone.

May the Lord provide you comfort as only He can!


Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ I Will Rise

It's Then Sings My Soul Saturday. Yay; I really needed this today.

Earlier this week I planned to post another song that a fellow blogger shared with me. I loved the song. However, I can't seem to get this song out of my head. I wake up to it in the morning and can't seem to shake it throughout my day.

So, I had to post it for you. It's called "I Will Rise" and Chris Tomlin sings it so well.

It is so good to be reminded that the victory has already been won. Jesus has overcome. I know the end of the story.

I will rise when He calls ...my name (Debbie).

Knowing this gives me such hope and encouragement even though for now life may be difficult.

I will rise!

I hope you will visit Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders to listen to other participating blogs on Then Sings My Soul Saturday.

Have a wonderful weekend and thank you for visiting Heart Choices.


What Brings A Smile To Your Face?

What brings a smile to your face? I immediately think of babies, puppies, family and ...God's love.

Today I decided to leave the Fitness Friday posting in the capable hands of Sandy of God Speaks Today and Sarah of All Pain ~ No Gain. BTW, they are each responding to a letter submitted by "Unfit Girl". She admits she knows she needs to start exercising but doesn't know where to begin. I love how Sandy and Sarah each answered her letter in their own unique way.

So, back to smiles. Here are a few favorite photos that make me smile.

This is my friend Jamie's daughter Mary at her first appointment with the dentist.

My niece Katie being goofy with her friends.

Karli experimenting with a new hairdo.

Jill's Noah and Naomi praying. How precious is that?

And here I am with Shanelle. She's my dad and Shari's puppy.

I hope you leave Heart Choices with a smile today.

Life can be challenging but ...we can choose how we respond.


Thankful Thursday ~ Life

It's Thankful Thursday and Iris of Grace Alone is hosting. Iris is the founder of our Thankful Thursday meme so I'm very grateful and thankful for her.

There are so many times during my week when I remember to focus on what I can be grateful for. I know I will be writing about thankfulness on Thursdays so I'm on the lookout throughout my week. Iris chose the topic of life for this week.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I have His Spirit within me. As I walk through this life while on earth, I can have abundant life but only as I live ...in Him.

But I have a choice to make each day and often moment by moment.

Do I choose to satisfy my own wants and desires; my flesh?

Or do I make the heart choice to live in obedience to His Spirit within me?

I can't tell you how long it's taken for me to learn this and walk it out in my life.

I'm so thankful that:

  • When I quiet myself and spend time in His Word, He speaks to my heart. Not in a loud audible voice but He speaks to me through the pages of Scripture exactly what I need to hear.
  • He provides me with all I need.
  • He chooses to use me as a vessel to impact others.
  • He loves me and has chosen me as His own.
  • He strengthens me and upholds me, no matter what life throws at me.
  • He is sufficient for all of my needs.
  • He can use my circumstances for my good and His glory.
  • He brings to my mind a Scripture I memorized just when I need it
  • He provides a way out of temptation.
  • He is my life.

Happy Thankful Thursday!

Thank you for visiting Heart Choices. Will you accept the challenge to be on the lookout for all you can be thankful for this week?


Walk with Him Wednesday ~ Fear Not

holy experience

For this Walk with Him Wednesday, Ann Voskamp of @ Holy Experience has asked us to share Scripture we've been memorizing.

The older I get, the harder it is to memorize but I'm determined to not let that stop me. I need to do this now more than ever.

And besides, I've stated it repeatedly on Heart Choices ...I am a life long learner.

If I have to share one emotion that I struggle with most in my life, I would have to say it would be FEAR.

I used to listen to Zig Ziglar tapes in my car on my way to work. I well remember the acronym Zig used for fear:

F= false
E= evidence
A= appearing
R= real

As I recall things I worried about in the past, the majority of them never occurred. Such wasted moments spending precious time fearing the future unknown.

My good friend Terri has often reminded me over the years that most of what we worry about never happens. Terri is one of those people who strives to live in the moment and enjoy each day to its fullest.

Which brings me to my memory verse of Scripture:

I have this verse laminated on a card that sits right under my computer screen in my home office. This way I can easily glance down to memorize it.

The phone rings. My immediate fleshly response is ...what now?

But I glance down at Isaiah 41:10 and ...remember.

God is with Debbie. Debbie does not need to fear. He will strengthen Debbie and help her. The Lord God Almighty will uphold Debbie with His righteous right hand.

I answer the phone and continue my day knowing that ...I have nothing to fear.


I Love Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving! But when I took a walk around my neighborhood, I couldn't believe it. The gated entrance is already decorated for Christmas. And several of the neighbors are going all out on Christmas decorations. It's still another week before Thanksgiving and I want to enjoy it.

There are many reasons I love Thanksgiving.

(Photo credit: Country Living)

I love the colors of the season. Fall is such a changing time in nature. Although I live in Phoenix and it's still in the 70's, I'm hoping for a drop in temperatures very soon. And of course, it's only a two hour drive north to Flagstaff where we can enjoy the seasons.

I love decorating the house with fall items. I picked up this special pumpkin in Boerne, Texas while visiting my friend Jamie.

I love scented pumpkin candles and taking out my copy of "Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember" by Barbara Rainey. I read this book every fall. I would highly recommend it to anyone with children who would like to teach them about the history of Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims in a fun way. I would actually recommend it to adults too.

I love having family over to the house for Thanksgiving dinner. This is Greg's family several years ago enjoying our meal.

And since we didn't have enough room at the table, the kids had fun sitting together. BTW, these photos were taken about eleven years ago. I have to laugh because Brittney and Sarah who are pictured on the left are both freshmen in high school now. And Julie is a senior in high school and Bryan is in college. LOL.

And this photo is of Greg's sister Roxann's children who are all grown up. They live on the east coast so we don't get to spend Thanksgiving with Collin, Jason and Megan. But we miss them.

Free Scripture Tags by Edie at Rich Gifts Graphics & Blog Design

Edie of Rich Gifts offered this free Scripture tag for Thanksgiving. You can get the code on her blog. She is so talented and did my Heart Choices makeover.

But I guess I love Thanksgiving so much because it is a time of thankfulness. God has been so good to us in the United States and too often we take our freedoms for granted. Let's cultivate an attitude of gratitude all year round and not just for Thanksgiving.

How about you? What do you love about Thanksgiving? Or do you enjoy this time of year? Not everyone can be with family so how do you still find ways to enjoy it?

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