Heart Choices: January 2010

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Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ Take My Life

It's Saturday when I link up with Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders for Then Sings My Soul Saturday. The Lord placed this particular song on my heart while I was praying Romans 12:1.

I have to admit I couldn't honestly pray that for so many years as I struggled for control. I won't have complete consecration this side of eternity but I'm growing and learning as ...I trust and obey.

As I open my hands and relinquish control of my life to His loving care, He works in me and throuh for my good and ...His glory.

May this song speak to your heart as it did mine.

Thank you for visiting Heart Choices.



Friday Photo Flashback ~ Family

Friday Photo Flashback

It's Friday Photo Flashback when I link up with Alicia of More Than Words. I've been having such a good time locating old photos to share.

It looks like my brother Steve and I weren't in the mood for having our pictures taken in this one.
We look happier in this photo but after all ...it was Christmas time!

I think this was my birthday and I loved my dolls. I believe I was about four years old here.

This is a family photo of the Sumstad's and the Haugli's. All of us kids are first cousins.

My mom is seated on the left with my baby sister Christine. My Uncle Ivar Haugli is on the right. He is my mother's brother. My Aunt Rose Marie is next to him and my dad is on the left behind my mother. I am in the lower left hand corner.

I have to laugh because I'm going to upload this photo to Facebook. Many in my family are online. My cousin Linda (in the lower right corner) is married to Pastor Ron Braaten and they are on the mission field in Belize. They are grandparents. My cousin Susan is sitting on my mom's lap next to Christine. She was on the mission field for many years and she and her husband have grown children.

Time passes much too quickly!

This is a photo of my Grandma and Grandpa Haugli. They are my mom's parents. They are both gone now but are missed.

I loved sharing these family photos with you. Most of these photos date back to the late 1950's to early 1960's. Stay tuned for next week as I just located many more photos to share.

Have a great weekend!



Thankful Thursday ~ Unexpected Joys

It's Thankful Thursday and Lynn of Spiritually Unequal Marriage has been our host for for January. She suggested we share about unexpected joys the Lord has brought into our lives this week.

This season in my life has been very challenging but I have to admit there have been a few unexpected joys this week.

I just want to share that prayer brings joy to my heart. I truly believe in the ...power of prayer.

Although I wish I would get an answer quickly to my prayers, it's often in the times of waiting that I learn to trust. I am learning to walk by faith and not by sight.

I'm thankful for the unexpected joys of:

  • The prayers of many awesome blogging friends.
  • Praying with my realtor's assistant Judy as we sat outside my house. I discovered that she grew up on the mission field in Costa Rica. We had the opportunity to talk of lessons learned through tough times and God's goodness.
  • Peggy of Amazing Grace who personalized Scripture with my name and sent it to me.
  • Jennifer of Smelling Coffee who emailed me this week after the Lord impressed my name on her heart. She prayed for me.
  • Sonja of Bits and Pieces and I have delighted in discovering the many similarities in our lives.

As I think about this, I'm amazed at how the Lord is faithful. He provides me what I need exactly when He knows I need it. And He fills me with ...His joy.

Christmas Decorations at Rich Gifts Graphics & Blog Design for Christian Ministry

Edie of Rich Gifts sent me this image of JOY at Christmas time but I thought it was so appropriate for this Thankful Thursday post on unexpected joy. Thank you Edie.

May each one of you be on the lookout for those unexpected joys in your life.

Blessings and love,


Have You Experienced God This Week?

holy experience

On this Walk with Him Wednesday, Ann of A Holy Experience has asked us to write about how we've experienced God recently.

When I read that request, my first thoughts went the Henry Blackaby study called Experiencing God. That study impacted my Christian walk more than any other study except of course, the Scriptures themselves.

You see, at the time I knew I was a Christian but I didn't quite understand how to live that out in my life. I heard how people would claim that God spoke to them but at that time ...I never heard His voice.

But God ...He met me right where I was, a bit skeptical and unsure. I'm forever grateful for His tender love and patience. And that's when I met Helen, my prayer partner.But the question Ann posed was how have I experienced God lately. Here are just a few:

  • I am experiencing His presence as I know that I know I am never alone.
  • He speaks to me through His Word, the Bible as there have been many times recently when a Scripture practically leaps off the page. It's as if God highlighted it just for me and my situation.
  • He often awakens me with a song in the morning. I've shared many of them on my Then Sings My Soul Saturday posts with you.
  • He has been providing me with opportunities to pray with people I would never have imagined. My realtor Cionne held my hand and prayed with me before the buyer came to my house to pick out the furniture they want to keep.
  • I am experiencing God's love for others as a blogger from another state reached out to me to ask if I might meet her sister who lives not far from me. We went to church together last Sunday and it was a joy getting to know her. She's not been to church recently and she's returning next Sunday with her two little children. Praise God for this. The children's program director met her and explained the process of enrolling the children and was so kind to her. And the people in my church were very kind and welcoming to her which made my heart so happy as God's people stepped up.
  • I've experienced God this week when I received yet another phone call from my Pastor Dan. His encouragement as I go through my current storm has been so helpful and my church family has rallied around me.
  • I've experienced God through a Christian couple who do not want to be named and have provided just what Greg and I need for housing.
  • I've experienced God through the Book of Hababbuk as I listen to Scott Samter's teaching at On Opening His Word Together. I never realized how this little book could teach me so much as I see what is happening in our world today.
  • I'm experiencing God as He provides me with opportunities to share where my strength comes from and give Him the glory.
  • I'm experiencing God with a new tenderness for people going through their own seasons of difficulty and challenge. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 has become more real to me.

Have I been experiencing God lately? Oh, yes I have!

I leave you with this beautiful graphic and verse. Love should be the distinguishing mark of how the world sees Christians treat one another.

How about you? It's easy to remember things from years ago but what about today?



In Other Words Tuesday ~ Knowing Jesus and Conflict

It's "In Other Words Tuesday" and Esthermay of The Heart of a Pastor's Wife is our host. She has chosen the following quote straight from the Bible for us to write about today.

When a person truly accepts Jesus as their personal Savior ...their lives will change.

While Jesus walked on this earth with His disciples, He preached about His Kingdom that was not of this world. The Roman occupation probably weighed heavily on the people and they hoped Jesus' Kingdom would change everything and bring peace on earth.

But the peace that Jesus was speaking of was ...peace between God and man.

Jesus came to this earth to provide the only way to have peace with God. His death on the cross and how He overcame death by rising again to sit on the right hand of the Father and continually interceding for us ...changed everything.

Sinful man could be in a personal relationship with the one true God who created all things. When we fully realize what that means for us for eternity ... how can we remain the same?

I can tell you from personal experience that when I truly understood what Jesus did for me and how much He loved me, I was overwhelmed with love. And I couldn't keep silent.

My relationship with Jesus impacted:

  • My work as a cardiac nurse
  • My relationship with my husband
  • The desires of my heart
  • It changed what was important to me
  • I had no taste for things I used to love
  • Everything looked different like I was seeing with new glasses

And let me tell you that can create conflict.

When people who've known you one way suddenly see a 'new Debbie', an inevitable reaction occurs. I stopped getting invitations to parties and drinks after work. People I'd known forever suddenly felt uncomfortable if they slipped and said a curse word. When I attended a reunion, people commented that they heard I became very "religious". Many felt like I was judging them even though I wasn't.

However, I have to say that over the years much has changed for me personally. When I stopped preaching, leaving Scriptures or Christian books opened to a specific page and instead allowed the Lord to deal with loved ones, there was less conflict.

I still live my life as a believer and disciple of Jesus Christ but I've found that living a life of love speaks way more than words. There is a time for words; don't get me wrong. But I pray for the Holy Spirit to prompt me when to speak and ...when to be silent.

The more time I spend in a daily quiet time praying and reading the Bible, the more I reflect His love to others. The fruit of the Spirit becomes more evident and noticeable and I know and others know that's not Debbie.

It' the work of His Spirit within me and I can give Him the credit.

If we hide what's in our heart for fear of offending or simply keeping peace, are we truly His disciples? I think there will always be conflict between righteousness and unrighteousness. How can that not be?

I look forward to reading other participating bloggers take on this verse. Be sure to visit Esthermay of The Heart of a Pastor's Wife.



Top Ten Blogs for Christian Women

I received an email on Saturday morning from Kim Avery of Life Coaching for Christian Women. Here is the email she sent to me:

Hi Debbie,

Congratulations! Blog readers have chosen Heart Choices to be on the list of Top Ten Blogs for Christian Women in 2009.

Here at Life Coaching for Christian Women our vision is to equip and encourage Christian women to daily live Christ saturated lives. Thankfully, we do not stand alone. In 2009 hundreds of faithful bloggers, like you, have enriched our Christian community with your wit, wisdom, thoughts, musing and prayers.

So that even more readers can be blessed by your contributions, this Top Ten List will be posted on our Living in Love with Jesus blog on January 25th.

Attached is an award graphic for you to display on your blog allowing readers to see the results of their faithful votes.

Thank you for sharing your life with us.

Kim Avery, Certified Life & Career Coach

To say I was honored and humbled is an understatement.

I thank God that I've rediscovered my voice through blogging. What started out as a heart health blog developed into so much more. The Lord provided me with a ministry to encourage others. I am so grateful.

To God ...be the glory!



Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ I Give You My Heart

It's Then Sings My Soul Saturday when I join with Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders. Today I chose the song "I Give You My Heart" sung by Michael W. Smith. God desires our whole heart and not just parts of it.

The words are perfect for where I am right now in my walk with the Lord.

Trust and obey is my theme for2010.


Friday Photo Flashback ~ The Early Years

Friday Photo Flashback

I'm linking up with Alicia for another Friday Photo Flashback. I had such fun last week so I thought I'd join in again today. It's been fun finding old photos.

My photos this week are still ...stuck in the 1950's.

I know that most of you weren't even born at that time; lol.

This is one of my baby photos. You can see how old this one is. I had to scan it into my compter and there's a crease in the center.

Here I am in my Sunday best. Little Debbie is ...all girl.

My mom used to make most of my clothes. She would visit all of the department stores to get ideas and then make them herself. We never had much money but I was always dressed pretty. Thanks Mom!

This is my brother Steve and me. When we were kids it was Stevie and Debbie. I love the smiles on our faces. I'm sure Mom and Dad were posing us for yet another picture and we were probably tired of smiling big. :)

And here we are for yet another photo op. We used to love to go to the beach for some family fun.

I hope you enjoyed my old photos of life in the 1950's.

You can visit Alicia at More Than Words to find more participating blogs.



Thankful Thursday ~ Love

It's Thankful Thursday and Lynn of Spiritually Unequal Marriage is hosting us for the month of January.

So what am I thankful for today?

I'm thankful for rain. We get so little rain in Phoenix. So it's a major event when it happens. This week has been filled with rain and more is on the way. I love it!

I'm also thankful for the rainbow after the rain. It reminds me that God's promises are true and that ...He is faithful.

I've journaled for years and have so many notebooks filled with my words.

But I'm thankful for blogging because it becomes a ...two way conversation.

And that gives me one more reason to be thankful today.

I'm thankful for ...my blogging friends.

I'm amazed at how the Lord has used so many of you to impact my life.

I would never have imagined that I could love people I never met in person and to actually feel their love in return.

Your love blesses my heart!

1 John 4:11 tells us to love one another. And I'm so thankful ...for that love.

Blessings and love,


Random Dozen Questions

This is my first time participating in the Random Dozen meme hosted by Linda of 2nd Cup of Coffee.

But I started noticing some of the blogs I follow post answers to her questions. Some of them are serious but others are quite funny. I decided I needed a bit of a break today so I'm joining in.

Here are the questions and my answers:

If you physically lock in one age for yourself, which would you choose and why?

I would probably choose the age of 50. I know that sounds old but I'm even older now. And at that age, I think I had acquired wisdom, grown in my faith and I looked better physically. That might sound vain but there were less wrinkles and it was easier to keep the weight down than at almost 57.

What is the best dish you cook or bake?

My spaghetti sauce is my husband's favorite. I add a bit of brown sugar and make it from scratch. He always tells me that if he had a choice for his last meal, it would be my spaghetti. LOL.

When you feel blue, what is one strategy you use to help yourself back to normal?

I try to remember to run to God in prayer. However, sometimes I give in to my emotions and go to sleep.

When was the last time you danced in public?

I was in a dance recital in 2006 and we performed on stage in a Phoenix theater. I had taken an adult dance class from Sheryl Cooper (Alice Cooper's wife) and had a ball.

Do you consider yourself a realist or a dreamer?

It really depends on my situation. At this time in my life, I'm a realist as I'm dealing with some heavy issues. But as a kid, I was definitely a dreamer.

As a parent, what is one thing you've done well?

Well since I was unable to have children, I guess I can't answer this one.

What is your favorite character on the Andy Griffith show?

It would have to be Opie. He was so adorable.

On a scale of 1-10, how much do you know about Dr Martin Luther King, Jr?

I'd have to say about a 7. I lived during the time when he made his famous speech and his horrible assassination. I've read many books on his life and those times.

What is your #1 pet driving peeve?

People who drive slow in the passing lane. Come on, just move over since they're probably not going to turn for three more miles. :)

What color best represents your mood today? Care to elaborate?

It is red for today because I need to be on fire and get moving. I have so much stuff to get rid of. I'm packing up books and selling them at Half Price Books. I'm cleaning my closet and getting rid of anything I've not worn in the past year. It's a time of cleaning up all the stuff.

If your spouse were an animal, what would he be?

I would have to say a puppy. He comes across like a lion at times but he's really quite snugly and playful with me. :)

What activity takes up the bulk of your time on an average day?

I would have to say being on the computer. Blogging is a hobby for me that I've grown to love. But I also work online helping my hubby in his business. So Facebook and twitter are fun byproducts. I always try to make work fun, no matter whether it was as a nurse or in the field of technology and software. A girl's gotta have some fun too. :)

Well, I have to say this was fun answering the random dozen questions. I look forward to visiting other participating blogs too.


Sumstad Farm in Norway

How would you like to be raised by a couple of Vikings? Is this picture enough to scare you? Only kidding Mom and Dad; LOL.

Both of my parent's families are from Norway so that makes me ...100% Norwegian.

One of the benefits is tracing my family history. And it's helped since I've been blogging and on Facebook. I've reconnected with many relatives and even discovered a few that I have not YET met. It's been such fun!

Henrik Sumstad, my grandfather (my dad's father) came to the US with his younger brother Tomas Konrad on the Bergensfjordin ship departing Kristiania, Akershus, Norway October 15, 1923. They arrived in Elllis Island.

These are some photos of the beautiful land they left behind to come to America.

This is the Sumstad family farm. My grandfather was born and raised here. My parents have visited several times. I had the opportunity to visit once in the 1980s when cousin Kjell accompanied us. This is the boathouse in Sumstad. Several of these photos were sent to me by my relatives. No wonder I love mountains and water. It's in my blood. I think this photo looks so calming and serene. This is a close up of the Sumstad family farm. It was redone since I was there and looks really nice. I'd love to take my husband Greg to visit one day.

This photo came from Grethe Hagen's album. Hagen was actually my family name. But it was customary to take the name of the town for a last name when emigrating to the US. This is the tombstone of my great grandparents, Helga Hagen Sumstad and Kristian Hagen Sumstad. We visited the cemetery in Sumstad.
Isn't this a great view? My dad is always so happy when he visits this place.

I'm so thankful for the connection to my family in Norway and also many now in the Seattle area and also Minnesota. I've been told there is going to be a family reunion this summer. How fun that would be!

I hope you enjoyed a little bit about my family history. I'm so glad my grandparents made the choice to come to America. And yet, I'm also glad our family has remained in touch with those who stayed behind.



Anne Graham Lotz in Phoenix

Have you heard of Anne Graham Lotz? She's Billy Graham's daughter and I have seen her several times in person. In fact, my friend Helen and I went to see her about 15 years ago at Scottsdale Bible Church and what a weekend that was. We became prayer partners at that time!

Well, Anne was in Phoenix this weekend. Helen called to tell me and even invited me to see her in person. I was unable to go but I was so thankful for the internet. I stayed home from my bible study (sorry Marcia) because they had a live feed from Calvary Phoenix Church where Anne was speaking. I didn't want to miss it.

Anne spoke on Isaiah 6. She cautioned the church not to be asleep. There are alarms going off in our world. Are we paying attention?

Think of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and now the earthquake in Haiti. God didn't cause these disasters to occur but He certainly is aware. We are getting warnings on many levels. When will your life end? It could happen tomorrow. We just don't know.

In our churches, are we so focused on the style of worship, getting the best parking spots or the other unimportant stuff. But with all of these alarms going off at this time in our world, the church cannot afford to be asleep.

There are too many people who don't know Jesus as their Savior.

Focus on Jesus.

Is He living in us and through us? Are our lives being transformed? Do people know us by our love?

Isaiah was a prophet who preached to the people of his time. There are many "woe to you" and "woe to those" in Isaiah 5. He saw how the people in his time were living and he was giving them a warning. But then in chapter 6 verse 5 it says "woe to me". Isaiah had encountered the living God who is holy and he realized that he was no better than the people he had preached to.

What is your standard? Do you look at your friends and co-workers and think that you are not as bad as them? As Christians, our standard is Jesus. He is perfect and holy and He is the only way we can come before God. He covers us in His righteousness. Without Jesus, we have no standing before God.

Anne spoke about the church today. She called us to account for how we are living in front of an unbelieving world. Are you so involved in your church activities that you've no time for that woman who needs someone to listen?

Sometimes, we can rationalize our sin. After all, at least I don't do this like so and so. But do you know God sees it all? He knows our innermost thoughts and desires.

Is there something in our lives that we are hiding and need to confess? 1 John 1:9 is our spiritual bar of soap. Come before the Lord and confess our sin. He already knows it. Why hide behind it?

The church needs to get right. The world is watching.

Anne has a new study called "I Saw the Lord" based on Isaiah chapter 6. I've read the book and it's excellent. But her study is available in DVD. The great thing about it is that it's not very expensive. The leader guide with the DVD's is only $20. I hope you'll check it out today.

No one knows the time of Jesus' return but we are one day closer than we were yesterday. I for one, want to be ready and not be ashamed.

"For it is written: Be holy, because I am holy". 1 Peter 1: 16

What is your standard? Are you judging yourself by others? Or is Jesus your standard?

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