Heart Choices: June 2010

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Word Filled Wednesday ~ Hope

It's Word Filled Wednesday and I'm linking up with Internet Cafe Devotions.

My Bible is worn, written on, and highlighted.

My hope is in His Word.


In Other Words Tuesday ~ Suffering

It's In Other Words Tuesday.  This week our quote was chosen by Kathryn of Expectant Hearts.

I enjoy participating in this meme.  My mind is stimulated as I attempt to concisely share my opinion and thoughts on the chosen weekly quote.  I love how each participating blogger often has a unique take.  It may be from personal experience or just a different viewpoint.   

Here's Kathryn's chosen quote:

Suffering; what a timely quote for me in this season of my life.  From personal experience, I have to say a resounding YES in agreement with the author of this quote.

I cringe when I hear some well known preachers teach a health, wealth and prosperity message.  From my Bible reading, I read something quite different. 

As a Christian, there are many blessings I wouldn't trade for anything.  I know I am never alone.  I know I am loved.  I have joy as I abide in Christ.  He promises to provide for my needs (not all my wants).  I know the end of the story and ...I'm on the winning side.

But in the meantime, the Christian life may include ...suffering.   

1 Peter 4:12-13 says:
"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."

As I'm currently in the midst of a trial, I can tell you that I listen to and seek out wisdom from people who have been there too.  Although I don't broadcast personal details of my life to all, there've been a few close relationships I've formed with bloggers who have reached out to me.  How thankful I am that they are willing to share similiar trials.  Yes, we each have different particulars but they understand as they too have suffered.

Some examples that come to my mind are:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Death of a child
  • Miscarriage
  • Infertility
  • Financial problems
  • Abortion
  • Divorce
  • Unsaved loved ones
If you've ever experienced trials, the people who have also experienced that trial or a similar one will be the best people to minister to you. 

I'm not saying that being there, listening, sending a card or helping in some way isn't a good and comforting thing to do, even if you've never experienced that particular trial.

But I've found that people who seem to have an easy life without many trials, can sometimes be quicker to judge.  Think of Job's friends.  Yes, we should consider whether there's sin in our lives causing the trial.  Yes, we should know that choices have consequences.  Sometimes we may suffer for something someone esle did.  And sometimes suffering comes simply from living in a sin soaked world. 

But I also want to say that I don't want to waste my suffering and trials. 
  • There are important lessons to be learned. 
  • My character is being built during trials and suffering.
  • I learn to draw closer to the Lord as my ultimate source of comfort.
  • I want to be open and sensitive to others who are going through suffering.
  • I want to learn to focus on who God is; His attributes.
  • I want to learn to ...trust and obey even when I don't understand.
  • I want to keep my eyes on Jesus and not focused always on the problems themselves.
What about you?
What have you learned from suffering?
How do you minister to others who are suffering?

Blessings and love,


Praying the Names of God ~ King


I continue to study Ann Spangler's "Praying the Names of God" and linking up with Jill of Forever N Ever N Always.
This week our focus is on God as King or Melek. 
For the Israelites, the temple in Jerusalem was an earthly symbol of God's heavenly throne.  They looked forward to the day when their Messiah would come, save them from their enemies and establish His Kingdom over all the earth. 
Jesus is presented as the King of kings in the New Testament.  His perfect obedience would bring forth the Kingdom of heaven. 
Ann wrote about how the Israelites thought of Yahweh as their King.  But as you may recall, the Israelites eventually wanted to be like the other nations and have an earthly monarch or king. 
In 1 Samuel 8:19,20:
" ...We want a king over us.  Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles."
As I've read through the Old Testament, these earthly kings were far from perfect.  Some followed God.  Others depended on themselves making alliances and turning to other gods, leading the people away from the true God of Israel. 
How am I like the Israelites?

  • Do I look to our government leaders to solve the problems in our country and world?

  • Am I enthralled with the romance of monarchies?
Lest you laugh at that last point, think of how many of us are fascinated with kings, queens, and princesses today. 

I remember being glued to the TV that day when a girl named Diana married Prince Charles to become Princess Diana.  It looked so romantic and perfect on the outside.  But we know how that tragic story ended.

I also remember the day when an American woman named Lisa Halaby married King Hussein Abdullah of Jordan to become Queen Noor.  To me that was so very exciting!
Then there was the story of a movie star named Grace Kelly.  She gave up her career to marry Prince Ranier of Monaco. Although I was just a baby when they married, I loved to see pictures and stories of their lives. 
Think of Jackie Kennedy.  President Kennedy was as close to royalty in the mind of many Americans.  However, we now know that fairy tale life was far from perfect.
I'm not suggesting that it's wrong to enjoy stories of kings and queens and princesses.  But earthly kings, princes and princesses are human and imperfect.
The only One who will not disappoint is Jesus!  Even today while in this present world of imperfection, He can rule in my heart. 
As I pray to Yahweh Melek, I am praying to the God who "...watches over the whole earth and who will one day come in glory to usher in an eternal kingdom of peace and righteousness". (Ann Spangler)

  • Are you living under His rule in your heart and life?

  • Do you believe that one day He will set up His perfect Kingdom?

  • Are you living like you really believe that?
I've much to learn about God as King or Melek.  How about you?
Blessings and love,


Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ The Potter's Hand

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

This week I chose "The Potter's Hand" sung by Darlene Zschech.  I had the wonderful privilege and pleasure of hearing her sing at a local church conference I attended several years ago.  I returned that evening alone so I could hear Hillsong. What a wonderful worship experience that was!

The words to this song have special meaning to me as I continue to go through very challenging times.

Blessings and love,

Getting Back in Shape

It's been some time since I last wrote a Fitness Friday post. 

There's a good reason for that.  I've not been practicing what I preach!

For most of my life, I've made exercise a habit.  I could never really understand those people who said they just can't get into it.  To me, it was simply a choice I made for my health and a way to stay in shape. 

Did it take discipline?  You bet. 

But even when I didn't feel like it, I did it.  And over time, I began to actually enjoy it.  That's typically what happens when you create a habit in your life.

Well then ...life happened!

Over the past six months, my life has been in a tailspin.  I've moved into a much smaller temporary home.  I sold all of my furniture, including all of my exercise equipment.  And that included my treadmill and weights.  I know; how could I let them go?  Well, it was a package deal.

I've not been consistent in my exercise for the last six months.  Here and there, I've taken long walks.  And I do have a few free weights that I keep under my desk.  And I've used them once in a while.  But what has been missing is ...consistency.

And the result is that I've gained some weight.  I don't even know how much I've gained because I can't find my scale in the garage that is packed with boxes.  I just know that my clothes are tight.  It's hard to close the zipper of my pants. 

In the past, getting dressed wasn't a problem at all.  Now I have to try on three or four outfits and look in the mirror.  This one is way too tight.  I'm top heavy to begin with but adding those extra pounds makes it worse.  I fall out of everything. 

I finally understand what many of my friends have been saying!

However, I'm determined to get back in shape.


I want to have lots of energy again.
I want to sleep better at night.
I want to fit into my clothes.
I don't want to obsess over how I look in the mirror.
I want to be about the Kingdom work God has called me to.
I want to focus on others, not me.
I want to go to  my 40th high school reunion next year in Lindenhurst.
I want to fit into my dress for Kristin's wedding in September of this year.

So, now I want to hear from you. 
Where are you as far as exercise goes?
Has it become a habit for you?
What might motivate you to make exercise a habit?

I'm joining up with my friend Sandy of God Speaks Today (the originator of Fitness Friday).

I want to be serious about getting back in shape.
No fad diets; just simple healthy eating that I can live with.
Exercise regularly.

I think we all could use some accountability, don't you?

So, I've begun to walk/jog around the neighborhood.  I've mapped out two and a half miles. 

One day I want to run with my friend Jamie.  She runs marathons and home schools five children.  You're my hero Jamie!

  I will write a post most Friday's to share what's happening.  If you'd like to join me in this getting back in shape journey, be sure to follow my blog or subscribe.  The buttons are on the right side of my posts.


Friday Photo Flashback ~ 1960

Friday Photo Flashback

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

I have so many pre-digital camera photos that it's a fun time to share a few of them with you.

My photo for this week dates back to July 10, 1960.  We were celebrating my brother Steve's ninth birthday.

I remember this day vividly, even though I was only seven years old.  Ten days later I had open heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect. 

My Nana Sumstad is holding my baby sister Christine in her arms.  My mother is holding the cake for Steve to blow out the candles.  I am the little girl sitting closest by my mother. 

The little boy closest to the camera  sitting closest to my Nana grew up to become Pastor Ron Braaten and married my cousin Linda.  They now live in Belize as missionaries.  You never know ...

My brother Steve corrected me on that one.  It's hard to be sure in these old photos; sorry Randy who is in the front.  LOL.

Blessings and love,


Thankful Thursday ~ Waiting

It's Thankful Thursday and I'm linking up with Iris of Grace Alone.

Do you ever find yourself waiting?
  • Waiting in traffic
  • Waiting in a doctor's office
  • Waiting on line in the grocery store
  • Waiting for a check to arrive
  • Waiting for a phone call
  • Waiting for news
I've become stressed, anxious, impatient, annoyed and much more.

But today as I'm still waiting, I'm making the choice to be thankful.

Yes, I said it ...thankful even in the waiting.

Because I made the decision to ...trust my Heavenly Father.

His timing is perfect.  I've prayed and prayed and prayed.  And right now His answer is simply ...to trust Him.

I'm so thankful for the lessons the Lord is teaching me in this season of waiting. 

I've been so blessed by good friends, especially many of my praying blogging friends.  You are all so precious to me.  I've learned so much from many of your blog posts.  And I love it when I receive an email of encouragement from you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So, I'll continue to wait, work and ...be thankful.

Blessings and love,


Word Filled Wednesday ~ Do Not Worry

It's Word Filled Wednesday when I link up with the Internet Cafe.

The Word for today comes from Matthew 6.  Jesus is talking about how we are not to worry.  He's talking to believers and that's me.  Instead of worrying about what I will eat or drink or what I will wear ...I need to trust Him. 

He supplies the birds with food, even in the desert of Arizona.  How good is our God?

This photo was taken by Richard Doyle from Arizona.  He is the step-dad of my friend Tina and is very talented with his photography.


First Day of Summer

Today is yesterday was the first day of summer.  Living in Phoenix, I feel like it's been summer for months.  We've already hit triple digit temps.

As you can tell, I'm actually a day late in completing this post.  I started it yesterday and then my husband asked me to try one of his widgets asking your input on what you think of when you hear summer.  We had a couple of glitches with that but it was actually quite helpful; so thank you.

But I remember summer when I growing up on Long Island. 

Summer meant ...
  • no school
  • lots of time to read books
  • fun with my friends
  • the beach
  • having my little sister tag along with me as my mom worked.  :)
Now summer doesn't have the same meaning.  It's very hot in Phoenix.  I know everyone says it's a dry heat but 112 is HOT!

I've been feeling a little down lately.

So, I decided to take another virtual vacation to get away from it all.  I hope you'll make the choice to come along with me.

This is a view of the Pacific Ocean from Big Sur area of California.  Isn't it awesome?

A bit further up the west coast in Oregon is a great place to stay.  Can't you just imagine sitting on that patio looking out, listening to the sounds of the waves breaking on the shore, smelling the salt air?  Well, I think you get the picture.

(Photo Credit: House Beautiful)

Now let's head off to this house in East Hampton, Long Island.  I know I'm jumping from coast to coast but remember this is a virtual summer vacation.

And who can resist a cold glass of iced tea in the middle of summer?  I'm sure Martha Stewart made it extra special for us.

(Photo credit: Away Network)

Fresh fruits and vegetables are so delicious and satisfying for a healthy summer treat.

But now I want to move on to what's most important: people.

 How can you not love Karli as she delights in cool water from a hoze? 
Can you remember a time when things delighted you like this?

And here's Ellie having such fun as she's pulled in this raft. 
I can't believe how quickly she is growing up. 
She and Karli are my friend Jamie's daughters.

And then there's my niece Kristin. 
She and Kevin got engaged recently while swimming with the dolphins. 
They are the perfect picture of young love, aren't they? 
And they also look cool in that water.

I have to say I'm already feeling cooler and better.

The Bible says in Philippians to think on good things. 

There may be days when you or I may be down due to challenging circumstances. 
But we really  have a choice as to how we respond. 
Today, I chose to have a little fun and take a virtual vacation. 

I already feel cooler, calmer and I have ...more hope.


What Do You Think of When You Hear Summer?

It's the first day of summer today!  How about giving your feedback using this rated word app?  What comes to mind when you think of summer?   Simply click to share your opinion.  Then rate your words to show whether you agree or disagree.  It's that simple.


I Need Your Help

Have any of you had experience with Shutterfly photo albums?  I've found Shutterfly to be one of the best online digital album sites.  I've made about 20 albums as gifts or for myself.  It's a great way to preserve those special memories and it looks so professional.

I created this "I Recommend" post using my hubby Greg's patent.  We're still working on perfecting it so it will be easier to use, create and share with others.  But I wondered if any of you might try it out.

Here's what you do:
  • Click on the read more button
  • After reading, click on the "click here to share your opinion" button
  • A window comes up with a one to five star rating; here's where you choose one
  • Click on the word or words that best describe your experience with Shutterfly
  • You can always add your own word or phrase
  • Rate the strength of your opinion as you see the words  you choose (1-5)
  • If you wish to add a short comment, you may do so and then click submit.
If you've never tried Shutterfly, you can just click around to see how it works.  You won't mess anything up.  If you have any thoughts, feel free to add a regular comment below.


The Name ~ Hashem

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

This week the focus is on The Name or Hashem.  I love Ann's words:

God's name is associated with his glory, power, holiness, protection, trust, and love.  To call on his name is to call on his presence.  To act in his name is to act with his authority.  To fight in his name is to fight with his power.  To pray to his name is to pray to him.  ...God's name is his reputation.

In the Old Testament, Solomon built a temple in Jerusalem.  It was the place where the people could pray and God would hear them. It was the place where God's name would dwell. 

In the New Testament, Jesus prayed that His Father's name would be glorified through Him.  How thankful I am that I can call on the name of the Lord.

God seated Jesus on His right side and He continually intercedes for me today.  To me, that is so amazing!

God exalted Jesus and gave Him "the name that is above every name".

I can call on The Name when:
  1. I'm scared
  2. I'm lonely
  3. I'm hurting
  4. I'm uncertain what to do
  5. I need help
  6. I want to praise Him
  7. I want to thank Him
  8. I can't sleep
  9. I'm in trouble
When I pray to Hashem, I am praying to the holy God "who dwells in our midst, hearing and answering our prayers".

Jesus taught us how to pray in Luke 11:2-4.  As I pray I exercise my faith in the one true living, holy and powerful God.

I never want to take this privilege for granted. 

As a child of God, I pray that His Name will be glorified in my life.

Blessings and love,


Happy Father's Day

(Gaither Image)

Happy Father's Day!
I'm so thankful for my dad but we live far apart.
I'm in Arizona and he's in Florida.
My brother Steve had a get together to celebrate. 
Since I couldn't be there, I enjoyed seeing the photos and I thought I'd share them with you.

This is my brother Steve with Dad

This is my sister Christine and my brother Steve

This is my sis Chris with our nieces Katie and Kristin.
I wish I could be right in the center of this one.  :)

And finally ...here's my dad with Steve's bird.

Happy Father's Day Pop!
I miss you and love you.

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