Heart Choices: April 2010

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Thankful Thursday ~ Godly Legacy

It's Thankful Thursday and Lynn of Spiritually Unequal Marriage is our host for this month.

I joined a Facebook group called Salem Gospel Tabernacle.  This is a church in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, New York and it's where both of my parents grew up, met and eventually married in 1950.

Joyce Lighari who blogs at Sounds of Hope, is a new friend I met after she read a post I wrote about my grandfather.  She also grew up in the Norwegian section of Brooklyn and went to Salem.  She is the coordinator of the Facebook group and has been encouraging everyone to add their photos from years ago.

I'm so thankful for the Godly legacy I have as I see my relatives in many of the photos.  My Grandpa Sumstad (my dad's father) is in the top row, 2nd from the left.  My mom's mother and father are standing next to him.  And in the first row of ladies seated 6th from the left is my Nana.

My parents and grandparents moved out of the city to Long Island in 1950.  I knew that my grandfather had conducted home Bible studies but hadn't realized that was the start of the Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle.  I found this posted on the Facebook group and as I read it, I had tears in my eyes.

I have such wonderful memories of my Grandpa Sumstad.  Every time I spent the night at his house, I would find him sitting in his chair with his Bible.  He would be there first thing in the morning and again at night before getting ready for bed.  I can tell  you that sticks in the memory banks of a child.

This is the hall they rented when they moved the Bible studies from his house.  I remember this place but eventually they built a church in Smithtown which became the Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle.

What a privilege to have had godly people in my life.  But just because my grandparents were very faithful and walked with the Lord, I wasn't grandfathered into God's plan of salvation.  I had to come to a place of my own when I finally surrendered to Him for myself.

I prayed and asked Jesus into my heart at the age of seven.  However, I was a bit of a prodigal for many years.  It wasn't until my grandmother's funeral that I was so convicted and returned to church.  I was so hungry to read the Bible and grow in my relationship with the Lord.  He transformed me and I still continue to grow.

How thankful I am for the people in my life who prayed for me ...even when they didn't see much transformation happening. 

God didn't give up on me and neither did my grandparents.  They prayed for me and their prayers were answered.

I continue to study Ann Spangler's "Praying the Names of God" and the focus for this week is on God as Yahweh Nissi or my banner.  Ann writes about trusting God with your loved ones' lives. 

Even if you've prayed for your children or spouse and they aren't living as you  hoped they would, remember to pray to God as Yahweh Nissi.  Trust Him with your loved ones and you will not be disappointed.  You may not see fruit yet but ...don't give up praying for them.

How thankful I am for the people who continued to pray for me. 

Blessings and love,


Word Filled Wednesday ~ Quiet Time

It's Word Filled Wednesday and our host for today is Susan of Forever His.

I struggle with fear.  My life is not always so easy. 

I choose to spend time in prayer and reading the Bible early in the morning.

If Jesus needed to spend time alone with His Father, how much more do I need this time?

He reminds me to abide in Him.

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.  Psalm 56:3

It's His perfect remedy for fear.

I choose to trust and obey.

Blessings and love,


Wednesday's Walk ~ Lindenhurst High School

It's Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane when I link up with Jenilee of The Goodwin Family blog.

I graduated from Lindenhurst High School on Long Island in 1971.  This was my graduation picture.  I know that's many years ago. 

Since I'm active on Facebook, I've reconnected with many of my high school friends.  Even though we're all much older now, it's funny how easy it is to revert back to those days and the way we were. 

My friend Lou Sussman emailed me this clip from one of our school newspapers.  Thanks Lou!

The five of us pictured had just won an election for Lindenhurst HS Student Council Officers.

Richie Viverito was the President and he went on to Annapolis after graduation. He also married a good friend of mine, Donna.

I have no idea what happened to Glenn Mark who was Vice President.

Cindy Bunin married her high school sweetheart but I saw her on Facebook and she's now single again.

Kathy Spiller (on the far left) continues to be a friend of mine. After about 30 plus years, we reconnected at an informal reunion two years ago. She lives in Florida not far from my dad.  I'm on the far right.

These are a few of my high school friends.  We've all known each other for over 30 years.  Lois (who is standing right behind me in the dark blue top) and I were in Girl Scouts together.  My, how fast time goes by! 

I had to laugh at the article written about our election.  I think we won because we promised to allow seniors to leave the school grounds during lunch.  At that time, nobody could leave school grounds at all. 

Times have changed!
With the internet and Facebook, I'm learning that everything follows you.
Be sure to stop by Jenilee's and join in on Wednesday's Walk.
Blessings and love,

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In Other Words Tuesday ~ Famine of Truth

It's In Other Words Tuesday and Miriam of Miriam Pauline's Monologue is our host. 

She has chosen the following quote for us to write on this week:

Amos is a book from the Old Testament.  He was a man from Judah who was chosen to announce God's judgment on the northern kingdom (Israel).  This was a time of great prosperity that included much immorality, corruption, indulgent living and oppression of the poor.

Since God's people had not given themselves over to the Lord and instead disobeyed, there would be judgment and consequences to follow.  Amos warned them that they would be taken into captivity by a pagan nation.  Then when they finally called upon the name of the Lord ...there would be silence.

The silence of God; not something I would want to have happen.  Living in a time when I have the freedom to read the Bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament, I know that God speaks through His Word.  But these people didn't have the Scriptures. They counted on the prophets to speak God's truth to them.

As I read the passages of Amos, I can't help but think of our current day and time period. 

For years, we've lived in a time of great prosperity.  But recently we've all been impacted one way or another by the declining economy.  Many people are out of work.  Others have lost their homes.  Life has been turned upside down for many ...including me.

I believe this is also an opportunity to turn back to God and consecrate ourselves.  There's always a purpose for everything written in the Bible. 

Why do we need to read about Amos' warning to the people of Israel?

After all, we live in a time of grace.  Jesus paid the price for our sins.  When we receive that gift in our hearts, we are free from condemnation. 

But are we living a life of trust and obedience that comes from love?

Could it be that we are being warned today?  What's really important in life?  Consider these questions:
  • Do you really need a bigger home or another outfit? 
  • Are material things becoming so important to you that you're missing out on relationships?
  • Are you too busy to spend time with family or friends? 
  • Do you make the time to spend with the Lord each morning in prayer and reading the Bible?
  • Are you more interested in being entertained in church with the music and sermon? 
  • Do you want to hear the truth of God's Word even if that includes the topic of sin? 
  • Do you treat others with respect and love?
  • What happens when someone has an opinion that is different from your own?
  • Do people in your neighborhood know that you're a Christian? 
God is holy.  We are to be consistently growing is our relationship with Him.  We are to be transformed so that we reflect Jesus to a dying world.

Trust and obey and be willing ...to reflect Jesus to others.

Blessings and love,

I'm a Romantic

I have a confession to make. 

Yes, I'm a romantic!

My mother used to tell me I was 'all girl' even when I was very little.  I would walk with my arms out and loved frilly dresses. 

When I was a teenager, my mom said I was in love ...with love.

She hoped I would be a bit more practical and not always follow my heart.

Being a romantic, I love to day dream.  I hope you don't mind joining me on a virtual tour of a few things that I love?

(Photo Credit: Victoria Magazine)

Candles set the romantic scene in such a lovely way.  There's nothing like it to set the mood for romance.

(Photo Credit: Victoria Mag)

Add flowers to the mix and it only gets better.  Isn't this pretty?

(Photo Credit: Victoria Mag)

I love those handwritten notes.

(Photo Credit: House Beautiful)

Is this bedroom fantastic or what?

(Photo Credit: Bountitul)

What a lovely setting for dinner on the beach!  There's nothing like the sound of the surf and the smell of the salt air.

(Photo Credit: House Beautiful)

I found the perfect house for Greg and my virtual vacation.  Check out this beachfront house.  Quietness and solitude; away from the stress of daily life.  I want to pack my bags now.  After all, romantic girls dream!

Tell me this isn't a romantic photo?  No, it's not me and Greg. 
It's my niece Kristin and she and Kevin are now engaged to be married.  I can't wait; weddings can be so romantic.  More details to come...

I think I needed to post something light and fun this evening.  I hope you don't mind my indulging myself a bit.  But just maybe you enjoyed the romantic pictures too?  Any other romantics out there?

Blessings and love,

Monday Morning Reflections ~ Yahweh Nissi

I continue to study Ann Spangler's book "Praying the Names of God" and link up with Jill of Forever N Ever N Always

This week our focus is on God as Yahweh Nissi or The Lord My Banner.

A banner is like a flag or something that serves as a rallying point for troops prior to a battle and can be seen from a distance.  Ann wrote:

When you pray to Yahweh Nissi, you are praying to the God who is powerful enough to overcome any foe.

Exodus 17:8-16 describes an encounter the Israelites had with their enemy, the Amalekites.  As Joshua and the men fought, Moses, Aaron and Hur climbed atop a hill.  Moses held the staff of God in his hands.  As long as Moses was able to hold up the staff, the Israelites were winning. When Moses lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.

The battle continued for some time and as you might imagine, Moses' hands got tired.  Praise God that Aaron and Hur were there beside him to help.  They would hold his hands up on either side.  Moses' hands remained steady until sunset and Joshua and the army won the battle over the Amalekites.

Moses built an altar and called it 'The Lord is my Banner'.

Just like the Israelites, we fight battles in our spiritual lives every day.  My biggest enemy is my 'self'. 

I don't know about you but I  battle myself throughout the day.  I start out great with a daily morning quiet time with all the best intentions.  But then ...life happens.

My desire is to stay connected to the vine and abide.  When I do this, I allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through me.  I love it when this happens because I know it's not me.  That's when the fruit of the Spirit is evident and I cannot claim the glory.  Even my family knows it's God in me.

The reality is that I don't always stay connected.  As long as I am on this side of eternity, there will be a battle with my flesh.  I have to remind myself of who I am in Christ:
  • The Lord is my banner. 
  • I am God's child.
  • I am free from condemnation.
  • My sins have been forgiven.
  • I am the temple of God.
  • I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
I struggle with my flesh most when I'm:
  • Tired
  • Hungry 
  • Not feeling well 
Instead of indulging my flesh, I try to remember those signals and run to the Lord who is my Banner.  I can pray to God as Yahweh Nissi. 

Instead of reaching for something that may temporarily make me 'feel' better, I reach for the One who can help me overcome those desires. 

Everyday is a battlefield.  Will I choose to indulge my flesh and do what I want and when I want it?

Or will I make the heart choice to walk in the Spirit, abiding in Him?  He is my banner if only I would look to Him.

Moses had Aaron and Hur beside him to help when he got tired.  How grateful I am that the Lord has placed many people in my life who help keep me accountable and encouraged.  Thank you Helen, Anna May, Sue and Marcia. 

Through blogging I've been so blessed with so many new friends.  What an encouragement it's been to read each comment.  I love to receive emails and requests for prayer.  What a privilege and honor to be used by God in this way. 

Heart Choices may have begun as a heart health blog but it's evolved into so much more.  My desire is to look to God as my banner each and every day as I abide in Him.

Blessings and  love,


Temporary Home

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

This week I've been reminded several times that this is not my permanent home. I'm just passing through.  It can be easy to get comfortable in this world.  But I want to keep my eyes on the prize and not lose sight of why I'm here.

I've heard this Carrie Underwood song several times this week and it spoke to my heart.  I hope you enjoy it and hear the message she's really sharing with you.

Have a wonderful Saturday!

And remember that this isn't our permanent home; we're just passing through. The best is yet to come.

Blessings and love,


Friday Photo Flashback ~ 1960

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

This photo was taken in the summer of 1960 before many of you were even born. 

Pictured are my father's parents; Nana and Grandpa Sumstad with my baby sister Christine and my brother Steve.  I'm standing in front of my grandfather and I look a bit sickly because I had only recently undergone open heart surgery for a congenital heart defect. 

As I remember back so many years ago, it seems like it was only yesterday.  It's amazing how that can happen when it concerns momentous occasions in your life. 

At the time, surgical techniques were not quite what they are today.  The surgeon told my parents that I had a 50/50 chance of making it through the operation.

At the time, 30 B positive blood donors were required to be at the hospital in New York City the morning of the operation.  They had to donate blood for the heart lung machine.  Nowadays, this isn't necessary.

My mom was interviewed by several newspapers since she was having a hard time locating enough blood donors.  The Smithtown Messenger wrote the piece above. 

However, Newsday wrote an article with the bold headline:
"Mother Pleads for Blood to Save Life of Daughter, 7". 

That got much attention and ...plenty of blood donors.

This was a follow up article after I was discharged from the hospital.  I am completely healed and have been healthy ever since.

I've been studying Ann Spangler's "Praying the Names of God". The focus for this week has been on God as healer or Yahweh Rophe.

Before I entered the hospital, many people prayed.  I was asked to come forward at my grandparents' church, Smithtown Gospel Tabernacle as the elders prayed over me.  (I have to add that when I checked the link for this church, I was so excited to see my grandfather Henry Sumstad's name recorded in their church history.  He began prayer meetings in his home in 1950 after moving to Long Island from Brooklyn.)

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Lord answered the prayers of the people and my family.  He healed me.  God had a plan and a purpose for my life and He wasn't finished with me yet. 

How grateful I am and so thankful to ...God my Healer.

Blessings and love,


Thankful Thursday ~ Blessed by Love

It's Thankful Thursday and I'm linking up with my friend Lynn of Spiritually Unequal Marriage today.

My heart is overflowing with love today.  As I continue to study Ann Spangler's "Praying the Names of God" I've been so blessed as I continue to learn who God truly is.  The focus for this week is God as healer or Yahweh Rophe.

The Lord is opening my eyes and changing my perspective on life. 

I've been a Christian for many years but I believe that I continue to grow in my  understanding and am walking closer with Him now than ever before.  How grateful I am for that growth as He is the One drawing me closer to Him.

In the process ...I've been blessed by love.

Jill of Forever N Ever N Always is the person who began this study and encouraged my participation.  I've been blessed by reading about all she's been learning and sharing.  Thank you Jill!

Blogging has become such a joy in my life.  I've journaled for years but now I can write on Heart Choices and I get to meet so many new friends.

Iris of Grace Alone and Laced with Grace (and originator of Thankful Thursday) has been such a blessing and encourager to me.  Since she lives in Arizona, I've had the privilege of meeting her in person. Love you Iris!

Besides being a blogger, Iris is a fantastic photographer!  She recently completed a photo book and asked for suggestions for a title.  I loved that she involved her readers in this decision.  And guess what?  I was amazed that she chose the title I suggested.  You can read all about it here

Take a look at this front cover.  Don't you just love it?

I'm so proud of you Iris!  And btw, did you know some of Iris' photos are featured in the Exemplify Magazine?  I told you she's good.

I was also blessed by love this past Sunday when I visited with Kathleen of Sassy Granny.  I can't tell you how many fans she has in bloggy land.  I think they were green with envy as so many would love to meet her.  I'm taking advantage of the fact that she lives fairly close to me but will be moving in a few months. :(

I've also been blessed by love through my 'sister' Sonja of bits & pieces.  She wrote about our bloggy relationship here

Sonja's background is also Norwegian.  Her mother was born in Tromso, Norway and her dad was a traveling preacher from the US.  Her married her and brought her back to the States.  There are so many similarities in our families that it is uncanny.  I believe if we traced our roots back, we would be related. 

I know for sure that we are sisters in Christ though.  And I have to say that her sister Carol Joy is such a blessing to me too even though she's not a blogger.  She is so kind to visit me on Heart Choices on a regular basis.    I love you both and am so thankful for you.

I love Thankful Thursday, don't you?  God is so good.  I've been blessed by love this week and I'm so grateful that I have a platform from which to share. 

Blessings and love,

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