Heart Choices: March 2010

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Word Filled Wednesday ~ Abiding

It's Word Filled Wednesday and I'm linking up with Amydeanne of The 160 Acre Woods

I took this photo in Giverney, France.  Greg and I were on a vacation to Paris.  We decided to take a train ride to the countryside, which ended up being my favorite part of the trip.  I took this photo in Giverney at Monet's home, the impressionist painter.  The gardens were simply beautiful.  This is the lilly pond that is so famous in his paintings.

It reminded me of how I need to remain ...in Christ. 


The LORD Will Provide ~Yahweh Yireh

I continue to study Ann Spangler's book "Praying the Names of God" and link up with Jill of Forever N Ever N Always. What a timely study this has been for me.

I have to admit that in the past, my habit has been to focus on a problem and seek a solution. This would typically entail:

  • Reading lots of books
  • Listening to tapes
  • Seeking advice from experienced people

Of course, I would pray. But I realize that I was seeking solutions for myself.

As I continue to study who God is, I realize that ...He has the solution for every problem or challenge I may encounter.

This week the focus is on God as Yahweh Yireh. This term was new for me as I've always seen it written as Jehovah Jireh. But it means that God will provide. He sees the beginning from the end and knows what is needed.

In Genesis 22, Abraham was tested when he was asked to sacrifice his long awaited promised son Isaac. I can only imagine what was going through his mind. I'm sure chief among them was 'why God?' and 'I don't understand'.

Ann Spangler writes that the English word 'provision' is made up of two Latin words that mean 'to see beforehand'. Yahweh Yireh sees our situation beforehand. He knows the beginning from the end. He knows exactly what we need.

When I pray to Yahweh Yireh ...He will provide for my needs.

Abraham trusted God even when he didn't understand. He was obedient to the point of binding Isaac and placing him on the altar. He even took the knife to slay him but the angel of the Lord stopped him.

As I read this encounter, all I can think of is ...yay God to the rescue!

God was testing Abraham's faith. Did he really trust God?

The most important thing to Abraham was Isaac. He had waited so long for this promised son. In his own reasoning, I learned from reading Hebrews 11: 17-19, he believed that God could raise the dead. So Abraham may have assumed that God would bring Isaac back to life. Even so, I can't imagine lifting a knife to his precious son. But Abraham was obedient and trusted God.

I think God wanted to see what was truly in Abraham's heart. Did he trust God?

Trust has been a real issue for me. My theme for this year has been to trust and obey. And I can tell you that I'm being tested. But my heart's desire is to trust and obey God. He is trustworthy and not like humans.

I recently moved from my dream home into a much smaller home. I never thought I'd leave this house. As a child, I used to dream of one day living in a beautiful home with my husband.

But God ...has provided.

I now have:

  • A home that was provided for us in such a unique way (only God)
  • Furniture
  • A closer relationship with my husband
  • A place to plant my very own garden
  • A place that doesn't take so much time to clean
  • The sound of singing birds every morning
  • A view of quail, rabbits and sometimes a coyote in the backyard
  • Many fruit trees that produce oranges and grapefruit
  • Less stress

Returning to the story of Abraham, I read in Genesis 22 that as the angel interceded there was a ram caught in the thicket. Abraham took the ram and sacrificed it to the Lord instead of Isaac. In Genesis 22: 14 it says:

So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."

How I long to be found obedient like Abraham; to truly trust God as Yahweh Yireh.

For me, it keeps coming back to trust. But, I see how Yahweh Yireh has provided for me even now. And I want to walk in that total trust each and every day, even when I don't know what will happen next.

I know I'm in His very capable hands. He loves me and knows the beginning from the end.

My part is ...to trust and obey.

Blessings and love,


Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

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

I've been studying Ann Spangler's "Praying the Names of God". This past week the focus has been on God as El Elom. He is the everlasting God. He is not bound by time. He is the Alpha and the Omega with no beginning or end.

The song that came to mind was an old one called "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms". The memory I actually have of this song (besides singing it as a kid in church) was from the Million Dollar Movie.

Most of you are probably too young to remember The Million Dollar Movie. But in the days before Tivo or DVD's or even videos, channel 9 in New York had one movie that was on TV every day for the entire week. This way if you missed part of it you could pick it up the next day. The theme song was from Gone with the Wind.

I don't even remember the movie but this song was sung in it with all of the verses. For some reason, it stuck in my mind.

Maybe I was reassured by the thought of being able to lean on God. His everlasting arms would surely hold me secure.

Here are the Gaither's singing this song:

Happy Saturday!



Friday Photo Flashback ~ Late 1950's

Friday Photo Flashback

It's Friday Photo Flashback and I'm linking up with Alicia of More Than Words.

I have to say that I'm loving Facebook.

The photo I'm sharing this week was taken in the late 1950's. I've connected with many family and friends from years gone by. Dale uploaded old Christmas card photos to Facebook. She had cards her family received while she was growing up on Long Island, New York.

Low and behold, there was one from ...the Sumstad's.

Do you notice our Sunday school pins? My brother Steve has several years on his pin. Mine isn't quite so long. After each year completed, we'd receive a pin. Many people had long pins from year after year of Sunday school.

This photo brings back memories for me of my mother. Her distinctive left handed handwriting is so familiar. And she signed my brother's name as "Stevie". How cute!

I also remember she always wrote the girl's name first. Hmm ... a little bit of a libber mom? LOL.

Have a great Friday!



Thankful Thursday ~ Strength

It's Thankful Thursday and Laurie of Women Taking a Stand is our host for this month. Laurie writes about strength for today on her Thankful Thursday post. To be more specific ...God's strength.

I have to admit that I'm a pretty strong woman. I think it has to do with my Norwegian genes. You remember the Vikings, don't you? Pretty scary, at least according to my husband. :)

I'm not only strong in my body but also in my mind. And that can get me into trouble sometimes, especially when I insist on exerting my own will.

I've been studying Ann Spangler's book "Praying the Names of God" with Jill of Forever N Ever N Always. This week the focus has been on God as El Olam; the everlasting God.

The older I get though the more I realize that I have some physical limitations. I may still be strong physically but it takes much more effort to keep my weight down. There have been days when I'm just too stressed or simply too tired to exercise. And at this season in my life, that's something I really need to continue to do.

But I'm also grateful that I'm realizing my need for God. I need His strength when I don't think I can continue. When I'm so strong in myself, I don't always see that need for God.

As I've been going through a season of trials, I've been depending more and more on the Lord and less and less on Debbie. And that's a good thing!

I'm so thankful that God has provided me with many blessings. My Aunt Ruth (my father's only sibling) was attending a conference at the Phoenician with her sister-in-law Ann. I had the opportunity to meet them at this beautiful resort for the day.
Isn't this place beautiful? The weather was perfect for eating on the patio of The Terraces. Thank you Ann.

My aunt and Ann were attending a conference for the Jewish Voice Ministries. This is a Christian organization whose focus is to proclaim the Gospel of Yeshua (Jesus) to the Jews and to all the nations of the world. I got to meet their President Jonathan Bernis.

But then we left to go shopping at Nordstrom. I haven't been shopping in such a long time but it was nice to check out the latest syles and to watch Ann shop. She knows her way around this store, that's for sure; lol.

I was so thankful that El Roi (the God who sees all) knew that I needed a fun day like this.

I'm also very thankful for Greg's sister Amy. She's been such a support and a true friend to me. We've become so much closer in the past year and for that I'm so grateful. Btw, as you can see, Amy is a strong woman too. We even arm wrestled at our family Thanksgiving get together. :) I think it was a draw, if I remember correctly.

I'm glad that I have this opportunity to connect with other thankful bloggers on Thankful Thursday. I'm on the lookout for all that I'm thankful for and that changes my perspective. And I have to add that it gives me strength to continue ...trusting God.

Happy Thankful Thursday!



Wednesday's Walk ~ Family Gatherings

I was looking forward to another Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane where I link up with Jenilee of The Goodwin Family. It's fun to remember times from years ago. And it's also nice that my niece Katie enjoys reading these posts to learn more about her family history.

My Grandpa Sumstad loved his family. He emigrated from Norway to the US with his brother when he was in his twenties. Whenever any of his relatives came to visit, it was a major family event.

His two sisters Agnes and Haldis came to visit him on Long Island, New York in 1971. So the whole family was invited to meet them, work on speaking some Norwegian, spend time getting to know them and of course ...to eat. This is a photo of Haldis, my Nana (Grandpa Sumstad's wife), and Agnes. I remember Haldis worked as a nurse in Trondheim, Norway and this interested me since I would be starting nursing school soon. My Aunt Ruth left Long Island and moved to southern California. She married my Uncle Bob. When they had their first baby they came back to Long Island for a visit.

This was the first time we got to meet Rodney Squires, my new cousin. My mom, dad, brother and sister are also pictured. I'm the one in the front right with the very short dress. After all, it was the style in the 70's; lol. Here's a picture of Rod. He looked so much like my grandfather; too cute! This is my grandfather holding Rod in his arms. My little sister Christine is standing next to him in her very short dress; lol.

It's very sad when I realize that not long after this gathering, my grandfather died of a sudden heart attack. He died at home in his favorite chair watching the news. I still miss him but I'm so thankful that he is in heaven where I will see him one day. Fast forward 39 years and here's a photo of Rod all grown up with his two children; Kate and Jake. Jake looks so much like the baby photo of Rod.

Believe me, life passes quickly so enjoy your family while you can.

Blessings and love,


Be Your Unique Self

It's In Other Words Tuesday. Our host for this week is Deborah of Chocolate & Coffee. She chose the following quote for us today:

After years of trying to figure myself out, I've given up.

I've taken personality tests.

When I took the Myers Brigg test, I came out as equally extroverted and introverted. I could have told them. I like people but I also need time alone. Too much of one or the other and I'm not in my ...happy place.

I attended CLASS (Christian Leaders, Authors and Speakers Seminars) one year with the Littauer's. We each had to take their Personality Test as part of the conference. My dominant type was a popular sanguine but I'm almost equally a peaceful phlegmatic. I guess it depends on what I'm going through in my life.

Several years ago, my husband needed me to help out in his company. I really didn't want to sit at the computer all day learning about social media and tools like Twitter and social networks. But in the process ...I discovered blogging!

If I had insisted on doing what I wanted to do, I would have missed out on a wonderful opportunity of growth and learning.

You see the Lord knows me better than I do. After all, He created me (El Elohim) and sees everything about me (El Roi). God knew exactly what I needed to learn and what I do best.

Helping my husband is honoring him and showing love to him. After all, Greg's love language is acts of service. When I help him, he feels loved by me. BTW, he's always thanking me for my help. :)

In my obedience, the Lord has blessed me with awesome blogging friends. I've even had the opportunity to meet several of them including:

I get to interact with these wonderful ladies online and occasionally meet them in real life too. How much better does it get?

I may not fit into a perfect gift box but I am becoming the woman God created me to be. I find such joy when I have the opportunity to encourage others and share from my heart. Only God knew ...

He's not finished with me yet. And I have to say I'm very grateful for that.

I almost forgot to tell you that I'm over at Laced with Grace today too. I wrote on the topic of ...focus.

With so many challenges and distractions in life today, it's important to remember where our focus should be. I hope you'll stop by and add your comments.

Blessings and love,


Monday Morning Reflections ~ El Olam

I'm linking up with Jill of Forever N Ever N Always as we continue to study Ann Spangler's book "Praying the Names of God". This week our focus is on God as the Everlasting God or the Eternal God; El Olam.

El Olam is a Hebrew name for God that tells us God has no beginning or end. He is everlasting. His Son is called the Alpha and Omega. His love endures forever.

The key Scripture for this week is Genesis 21:32-33:

After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God.

I read the earlier portion of Genesis 21 and noted that in verse 22 Abimelech and Phicol said to Abraham, "God is with you in everything you do".

This passage tells me that Abraham was living out his faith in front of others. He didn't hide the fact that he worshiped God. The people living in that area probably observed Abraham worship God. Even Abimelech, who was the leader of the Philistines, heard about Abraham's God.

They also noticed the outcome of his faith in God. God was with Abraham in everything he did.

The same God who was faithful to Abraham is the same God that I worship. He is faithful to me too. His love endures forever.

I pray that I would live out my faith in front of others and that they could see how God is in everything I do. I know that my part is to ...trust and obey.

It's easy for me to gather with like minded people and worship and praise God in church on Sunday. But during the week in my daily life I have to ask myself if others see that God is with me in everything I do?

The Scripture also said that Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba. I guess he was planning on staying awhile. He continued to call upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God.

In the book "Praying the Names of God", Ann wrote a prayer that touched my heart:

Lord, your love and faithfulness endure forever. Help me to live my daily life with the strength that comes from knowing that I am going to live with you forever.

What do I know?

  • The God who was with Abraham is also with me.
  • God is faithful.
  • God's love endures forever.
  • God is eternal, everlasting, forever.

I KNOW a lot of Scripture. Head knowledge is one thing but heart knowledge is another. I desire heart knowledge so I will live out the Truth every day and apply what I learn and know to be true.

I choose to place my trust in God. He is El Olam. He is the same God who was faithful to Abraham. He always keeps His promises.

Blessings and love,


TSMSS ~ In the Garden

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

This morning the song that kept popping into my head was "In the Garden". It's an old hymn that was written by Austin Miles in 1912. Although he was a pharmacist, his hobby was photography. While he developed photos in his dark room, he spent time quietly with the Lord reading Scripture. One day as he was reading John 20, this scene came into his mind and he wrote the words and music to "In the Garden".

I learned this information from a book called "Then Sings My Soul" by Robert J. Morgan. It was a gift from my realtor's assistant Judy.

Talk about the names of God. This was another example of God as El Roi and also as El Shadday. In the midst of a very difficult time and circumstances, God blessed me with another believer who came alongside of me. Thank you Judy!

I love the sound of Alan Jackson's voice.

Happy TSMSS!

Blessings and love,


Friday Photo Flashback ~ Destiny Dance

Friday Photo Flashback

I'm linking up with Alicia of More Than Words for another Friday Photo Flashback.

I always had fond memories of dance class as a kid. So just for the fun of it, I signed up for an adult dance class at Destiny Dance. It was from 2005-2006 and Sheryl Cooper was our teacher.

Sheryl is the wife of Alice Cooper, the rock star. You remember the song "School's Out", don't you? BTW, they are both Christians. Their Solid Rock Foundation has done much for the youth in the Phoenix area. They will be opening up The Rock Teen Center in the near future. It will be a place for teens to go for mentoring, music and dance lessons, sports and much more.

Sheryl kept encouraging our dance class to participate in the year end recital. I really had no interest since I only took the class for fun and exercise. Go on a stage and perform; no way! But Sheryl can be quite persuasive, so most of our adult class ended up performing in the recital after all.

We performed a beautiful number to the song Resurrection. I'd missed the dress rehearsals since I was in New York City the week prior to the recital. But I still joined in and ...had a ball.
Here's Sheryl Cooper, our teacher. She's a lovely person and a great dancer and teacher.



Thankful Thursday ~ El Shadday

It's Thankful Thursday and Laurie of Women Taking a Stand is our host.

I'm so thankful for the blessings of God. In the midst of difficult circumstances ...He blesses me.

As I continue to study Ann Spangler's "Praying the Names of God" with Jill of Forever N Ever N Always, I'm learning about El Shadday.

For Thursday's reading, the example is the life of Joseph. Joseph endured many hardships in his life.

  • Being sold into slavery by jealous brothers
  • Separated from his beloved father
  • Accused of a crime he didn't commit
  • Being thrown into prison for years

I'd have to say that's a lot of hardship.

Ann Spangler writes;

Joseph's resilience in the face of so many obstacles is compelling evidence of the Almighty's power to bless our lives, regardless of who or what stands in the way.

That was something for me to remember. Nothing can stand in God's way. My part is to ...trust and obey.

God blesses me in so many ways.

Yesterday I was blessed with the opportunity of meeting a fellow blogger for lunch. With our recent move, I live fairly close to Sassy Granny.

See, good things happen when I submit and go where I'm supposed to go ...no matter how I feel about it.

Kathleen AKA Sassy Granny is a delight. She's the real deal; authentic, transparent and did I mention ...encouraging? Although she's Irish, she wore bright pink so I wouldn't miss her. How could I miss her smiling face waving at me as I walked up to the Olive Garden? There was no mistaking that it was Kathleen.

We sat over lunch for two hours that seemed to go by so quickly. If you've ever met a fellow blogger that you've grown to love you will understand what a blessing it is. I can say that I hope to repeat this blessing many times in the future. Kathleen is such a source of love and hope and encouragement. She prayed the most beautiful heartwarming prayer for me before we left our lunch. I only wish Sonja of bits and pieces could have been with us. But I knew she was faithful in praying for us.

I want to thank Lisa Shaw of Sharing Life with Lisa. I first came to know of Sassy Granny when she wrote a guest post on Lisa's blog. Anyone who is a friend of Lisa's ...is a friend of mine.

So on this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for El Shadday's blessing on my life. I know I can look forward with hope to the future even when I don't know what He will bring. After all, nothing is impossible with God.

I pray that you remember and know that, especially if you're going through hardships and challenges.



Word Filled Wednesday ~ El Shadday

I'm glad it's Word-Filled Wednesday today and I'm linking up with Christy of Critty Joy.

It's been a crazy week for me. I wasn't even online yesterday which is very unusual for me. I live in the desert of Arizona and right now I feel like I'm in the need of some refreshment. Where do I turn?

I've been studying Ann Spangler's "Praying the Names of God" with Jill of Forever N Ever N Always. It's interesting that our focus for this week is God as El Shadday.

I snapped this photo on one of my long walks in the desert. Since we've had more rain than usual for Phoenix, the desert is beautiful.

When I'm weary and in need of refreshment I need to remember that I can rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

El Shadday is my refuge and my fortress in times of trouble and uncertainty. When I don't know where He will lead me next, I need to ...trust and obey.

I'm thankful for El Shadday on this Word-Filled Wednesday.



Monday Morning Reflections ~ El Shadday

I'm linking up with Jill of Forever N Ever N Always to continue our study of Ann Spangler's book "Praying the Names of God". The focus this week is on praying the name of El Shadday.

God revealed Himself as El Shadday to Abram in Genesis 17:1-2:

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.

Did you catch that? Abram was 99 years old!

And yet God Almighty (El Shadday) made a covenant (promise) with Abram. In verses 3-8 God told Abram that he would be the father of many nations and how He would bless his descendents. And yet ...Abram was 99 years old!

Abram's wife Sarai was 90 years old when this Covenant was given. Verse 17 tells us that Abraham fell face down. But he laughed and said to himself how could a man and woman of such an old age possibly bear a child.

I have to admit ...that would be me.

I hear with my ears and know that God is God Almighty (El Shadday) so nothing is impossible with God. And yet, in my humanity I question.

When God?

How God?

How about now God? After all, I've been praying for so long.

It takes faith to follow God. And that involves trust. Uh oh, I keep bumping into 'trust and obey' which is my theme for 2010.

I believe God was revealing Himself as El Shadday to Abram because this covenant would be impossibe from a human perspective. But with God Almighty nothing is impossible.

God even changed Abram's name to Abraham and Sarai became Sarah. You see, God knew what the future held for this couple. And God Almighty knew what they would become. They needed to believe by faith and ...obey.

(Photo credit: The Christian Post)

I love this image of God Almighty holding a frightened child (like me) in the midst of the raging storm. It reminds me that with El Shadday ...nothing is impossible.

While the storms are raging and I don't know what tomorrow will bring, I can trust El Shadday with:

  • My loved ones
  • My finances
  • My home
  • Difficult relationships
  • Uncertainties
  • Family who don't live close by

Yesterday, I was able to return to my church and Bible study group. What a blessing after missing out for several weeks with this move. I live further away from my church but El Shadday provided me with a special gift. I am less than a mile away from my friends Jack and Anna May. Yay God!

This week Jack was sick so Anna May picked me up and we rode together. We had time to chat on the way to church and back. How fun was that?

I'm so thankful that my God is El Shadday. When I become discouraged or doubt, I call on El Shadday. I remember that ...nothing is impossible with God Almighty.

It's not too late to join in on this wonderful study. If not, I'd love to read your comments.

Happy Monday!


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