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Word Filled Wednesday ~ Plans

A new year; new plans.

As I venture out to  pursue my goals, I'm reminded that God is ultimately in control.

I pray for wisdom.  I pray for guidance.

And then ...I rest in Him.

After all, He knows me and loves me.  And He alone knows what's best for me.

In the midst of the unknown ...I have peace.

Join in for Word Filled Wednesday at The Internet Cafe.

Blessings and love,


What's Your Ideal Christmas?

What's you ideal Christmas?  I love old fashioned shows like the Walton's.  However, life rarely turns out like these TV shows or movies.

Families are often separated by many miles. 

This is my family in Florida.  I wasn't able to be there for Christmas.  My dad is hugging my niece Katie.  She came home for Christmas from NYC.  And here are the newlyweds; Kevin and Kristin.  Aren't they cute?

I had a nice Christmas celebrating with Greg's family.  You can read about it here, in case you missed it.

There has been some sadness this Christmas too.  A blogging friend Cindy of Consider it All Joy lost her husband on Christmas Eve.  We were making plans to finally get together and meet as both Cindy and I live in the Phoenix area.  But her husband had been battling medical problems and he died.  I hope you will visit her blog and pray for her.

I also think of Melanie of The Bella Mella.  It was one year ago on December 16 when her beloved son Andrew went to Heaven. I'm sure this anniversary so close to Christmas was challenging for her. 

I know my ideal Christmas would be:
  • The whole family would be together; both Sumstad's and Petras'.
  • My dad would read Luke 2 before dinner (he actually does this each year).
  • For that one day, we'd have a white Christmas.
  • We'd celebrate the true meaning of Christmas; the birth of Jesus Christ.
How about you?  What would be your ideal Christmas?

Blessings and love,


Never Alone

Merry Christmas! 

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.  My family is in Florida and I'm the only one out here in Phoenix.

But Greg's family is here!  And we got together today.  My nephew Bryan played his guitar.  My mother-in-law makes the best poppy seed cake.  It's a Petras tradition that I've grown to love too.

I'm so thankful for family and friends. 

Even if you're alone this year, remember the reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  So you're really  never alone. 

I love Point of Grace.  Their song "Circle of Friends" is one of my favorites.  Listen as they sing "Immanuel".

Blessings and love,

Vær Så God

Vær så god!

This was how we were called to come to the table growing up in a Norwegian American home.  Loosely translated, that means ...come and get the food!

My Nana made the best Christmas cookies.  My favorite were the Spritz cookes and she always saved plenty for me.  I also love krumkake and I even have one of those irons so I can make my own.

I did make the time to bake a Julekake on Sunday to share with my church family.  It seemed to go over well as there wasn't much left.  And that's a good thing!

My friend Joyce of Sounds of Hope blog grew up in Brooklyn, NY.  We found each other online through our blogs.  Go figure ....

Joyce attended the same church where my parents met and got married in Brooklyn, NY.  It was Salem Gospel Tabernacle and of course, she's Norwegian American too!

Joyce wrote a great post with all the special Norwegian cookies that I remember from my childhood.

This is a photo of my nieces Kristin and Katie many years ago.  At the Sons of Norway lodge, Saint Lucia Day was acted out.  A girl was chosen to lead and other children follow as they sing songs.  My friend L-Jay of My Little Norway has a wonderful post explaining this holiday and the foods that go along with it.

I always remember holding hands as we walked and sang our way around the huge Christmas tree.

Guess who is playing Santa at the lodge Christmas party?
Stevie and Debbie posing in front of the Christmas tree

Little Debbie with Santa

My little sister Christine with cousin James.  Notice the broken leg; she fell down the stairs and that's the truth!

I think I need to make up a batch of Norwegian waffles.  So who wants to stop by?  LOL.

With all of our traditions and good food, let's not forget to celebrate Christ.

(Edie of Rich Graphics)
Jesus is the reason for the season.

Blessings and love,


Thankful Thursday ~ Life

It's Thankful Thursday and my good friend Iris of Grace Alone is hosting.  No matter what's going on in your life, there's always something for which to be thankful. 

I am so thankful that:
  • I enjoy my new job working at Rancho Solano Private School.
  • I get to work with the nicest co-worker named Heidi.
  • I am receiving lots of ideas from friends and bloggers about fun crafts to do with the children.
  • I get paid!
  • Best of all ...I love the children!
In the midst of this Christmas season, there's also been sadness.  Sandra Evans was the amazing designer who worked with me on our previous home.  Her son lost his wife and six year old son in a tragic auto accident this past week. 
Photo Credit: Funeral Pamphlet
My husband Greg attended the funeral alone yesterday as I had to work.  He described the service for me and shared how the pastor spoke about losing loved ones.  We are only here on this earth for a short time.  Their lives were a gift to those who knew them.

How can we be thankful in the midst of a tragedy like this? 

As Christians, their lives aren't over.  They will be with the Lord. 

It also causes me to pause and realize how very short life can be. 

I pray that I will love others with the love of Christ.  And this includes others who may not think or believe as I do.

Will you go out and spread the fragrance of Christ today?

Blessings and love,


Giving and Receiving

Laced With Grace
This is the season for giving and receiving.  Many people enjoy giving but do you receive well?

I'm over at Laced with Grace today.  I encourage you to hop over and read all about "Giving and Receiving". 

Blessings and love,



I love Christmas songs!  I listened to this song today as I drove home from work and found such meaning in the words.  Steven Curtis Chapman sings "Emmanuel" so beautifully. 

Since I'm an old fashioned gal at heart, I love the images on this video.  I'm the one who loves to watch the Walton's Thanksgiving and Christmas movies.  And by the way, I'm hoping for one of those Thomas Kinkade cottages for my home in heaven. :)

As I listen to the words of this song, it's so clear to me that Jesus fulfills the prophecy of the long awaited Messiah.  He is Emmanel, God with us.  How amazing is that?

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

I'm joining up with Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders.

Blessings and love,


Unwrapping Jesus


I'm jamming today with the Faith Barista.  We're sharing our Unwrapping Jesus discoveries.

My life has literally turned upside down in the past year.  Living in a temporary dwelling with boxes everywhere is a bit difficult. 

Christmas had been so organized in the past. 
  • I set up our tree with all the decorations the day after Thanksgiving. 
  • I'd shop throughout the year looking for special presents for family and friends on my long list.  I loved to find the perfect gift for each one and even loved wrapping them. 
  • The Christmas cards were signed and mailed. 
  • The menus were planned for Christmas Eve, Christmas morning and Christmas Day.

This was me several years ago.  I remember feeling so organized at the time.  Everything was in its proper place.

Every ornament was in place.  The fireplace was lit.  Greg and my stockings were hung.

I even created a Christmas card using this photo of our Christmas tree.

And then my life changed. 

I'm not buying a long list of presents.  In fact, I've not even set foot in a mall in quite some time.  I will send out a few Christmas cards using leftover ones from previous years.  I hope to make a few gifts and do a bit of  baking (if I can find my pans in the boxes in the garage).

But ...
  • I get to see the excitement in the eyes of the little children I'm teaching as they get to place ornaments on our class Christmas tree.
  • I get to listen to Christmas carols playing softly as the children take a nap after lunch on their mats.
  • I get to listen to their excited voices as they tell me what they want for Christmas.
  • I get to hear their sweet voices sing "Jingle Bells".
And in the midst of this Christmas ... I hear God's voice.

He whispers to me that He has a plan and a purpose for my life.  He promises to never leave me nor forsake me. 

And so I can celebrate Jesus. 

Unwrapping Jesus is:
  • A gift of His perfect love for me
  • The freedom He provides
  • The peace I can have with God
  • The gift of eternal life
After all, this isn't my permanent home.   I'm just passing through on my way to my home in heaven. 

God has changed my perspective and opened my eyes in new ways this past year.  And I am so grateful. 

As I celebrate Christmas this year, my focus will be on Jesus.  How about you?

Blessings and love,

Prayer Changes Perspective

Today I am hosting “In Other Words Tuesday”. I chose the following quote for us to write about:
“Prayer invites us to rest in the fact that God is in control, and the world’s problems are ultimately God’s, not ours. If I spend enough time with God, I will inevitably begin to look at the world from the point of view that more resembles God’s own. What is faith, after all but believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”    From Philip Yancey: "Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference?" 
How does prayer impact your life?

Who is in control of your world? Is it you? Or …is it God?

There are times when I become so frustrated when:
  • I see and hear all the things going on in our world today.
  • People don’t respond in the manner I’d hoped.
  • Friends disappoint us.
  • There seems to be a general lack of respect.
  • People don’t tell the truth.
  • Others don’t seem to understand what you’re going through.
  • Everyone seems to be so busy.
  • World leaders have different values than you.
We all experience disappointments. Do you take your disappointments to God? Do you really share all that’s on your heart with Him? Or do you call a friend and begin to complain about how so and so mistreated you?

As I spend time in prayer, I realize that God is ultimately in control. Nothing takes Him by surprise. I don’t need to spend time wringing my hands and worrying. I don’t need to be pointing fingers at others. I don’t need to fret because life can seem so unfair.

God sees all. God knows all. And best of all, God can see right into each one of our hearts.

God not only sees the outward actions and behavior but He sees and knows …our true motives.

According to today’s quote by Philip Yancey, faith is …'believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse’.

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) says:

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

If I truly believe that God is in control, by faith I can rest in Him.

As I learn to trust in His perfect timing, my perspective begins to change. I realize I may not be seeing the big picture.

So what do I do? I share my heart and then lay my requests at His feet. I go about my day and I continue to …abide in Him.

When someone is rude to me, I’m reminded that I don’t know everything that person may be going through. I need to trust that God sees and knows how I feel but there are bigger issues at hand right now. So I forgive that person.

When others don’t honor God in the way I believe they should, I realize that God sees and knows. I continue to live out my life in a way that honors God.

Hebrews 11:23 (NIV) says:

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”

How about you? Who is in control of your life? Does prayer change your perspective?

Blessings and love,


Are You Running On Empty?

Are you weary and tired?  Do you feel like you're running on empty?  Do you feel like you've nothing left to give?

There will be times or seasons in your life when it may feel like the river is going to sweep right over you.  We are to expect difficulties and challenges, according to God's Word.

But often we can bring some of it on ourselves.  We can place such high expectations on ourselves especially during the holiday season.  Maybe you're trying to meet the expectations of others.  Does everything really  have to be so perfect?  Are you setting yourself up for more stress and running on empty? 

It doesn't need to be that way!

The secret to remaining full is ...abiding in Christ.

Cling to the Vine. 

During this Christmas season, consider this:
  • Spend time with the Lord daily
  • Begin each day in prayer.
  • Praise God and give thanks today.
  • Ask for His strength for this day.
  • Ask Him to open your eyes to His Divine appointments for you today
  • Spend time quietly before Him so you can listen to His voice.
  • When you become stressed or feel empty, return to Him at that moment as you pray.

Photo Credit: Iris Nelson Photography
Iris of Grace Alone captured a perfect photo to illustrate this.

May you be filled to overflowing with His Holy Spirit.  And then may that Spirit overflow in love to others. 

Have a wonderful Monday!

Blessings and love,


Remembering Mom at Christmas

Kelly of Sufficient Grace is hosting a special giveaway and an opportunity to share memories of your loved ones who are in heaven. 

Christmas was a very special time for my Mom.  She loved to get all dressed up and have the family together.  Although my mom is now in heaven, I miss her so much.  It's been more than five years since she's been gone.
My mom loved to cook.  We loved to sit together and sift through cookbooks.  Some people read books.  Although my mom was an avid reader, she loved to spend hours reading cookbooks.  She would collect lots of recipes and actually try them. The family either gave the recipe a thumbs up or thumbs down.  I still have her recipe box of favorites that I treasure.
My mom also loved to have a pretty table setting.  I found notes that she had written for each dinner party she hosted.  It wasn't unusual for her to have fresh flowers and of course, a special tablecloth and napkins.

My mom loved my dad.  She was so loyal throughout the more than 50 years they were married.  She saw the best in him.

My mom wanted our family to carry on the Norwegian traditions of Christmas.  We always celebrated on Christmas Eve and now my sister continues that tradition. 

My friend Kathleen of Sassy Granny shared this video recently and I thought it was so appropriate to remember my mom in heaven.

Do you have a loved one who is in heaven?  Would you like to share some memories?  It's not too late to link up with Kelly at Sufficient Grace.

Blessings and love,

Peace on Earth

I'm so glad to be joining in with Then Sings My Soul Saturday today.  I link up with Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders.    If you want to sing some wonderful Christmas carols, I'm sure you will find many on the link up today.

The song that's been in my  heart this past week is "Let There Be Peace on Earth".  We live in a world that is anything but peaceful.  There are wars, rebellion and lots of sin.  It's hard to insulate yourself and your family completely.  And even as Christians, we don't always respond peacefully or in a God honoring way to others or our circumstances.

I've learned so many lessons through one of the most challenging seasons of my life.  However, each day God shows me something else He wants me to learn. 

As I've begun working full time with little children, I can't help but look into their sweet faces and know that God loves each one of them.  They come in all shapes, colors and sizes and yet each one is unique.

As I step on the playground to greet them, I find that I cannot even take a step because I am swamped with little arms hugging my legs.  It warms my heart to be greeted with shouts of "Hi Miss Debbie" and "oh look, Miss Debbie is here". 

For a woman who longed for children, this is ...a gift from God. 

We may not have permanent peace on earth this side of heaven.  But each day I have to make a choice as to how to react and interact with others who may not share my faith.  As I have conversations with parents and teachers of various backgrounds, I can show respect, be kind and share the love of Christ even without words.  

Will you choose to let peace begin with you?

Blessings and love,


I'm Hosting In Other Words Tuesday

I will be hosting "In Other Words Tuesday" next week.

I chose the following quote for us to write about:

“Prayer invites us to rest in the fact that God is in control, and the world’s problems are ultimately God’s, not ours. If I spend enough time with God, I will inevitably begin to look at the world from the point of view that more resembles God’s own. What is faith, after all but believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”

From: Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference?

I invite you to join in next Tuesday.  If you've never participated, this might be a great week to do so.  Simply write a blog post on this quote and then return on Tuesday morning to link up with us.  I love how each one of us has a unique way of writing on our quote.

I look forward to reading each one of your posts.

Blessings and love,

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