Heart Choices: July 2010

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Hosting In Other Words Tuesday

This Tuesday I will be hosting In Other Words Tuesday.

The quote I have chosen for us to write about is:

I will have a linky set-up for you so you can add the direct link for your IOWT post.  I encourage you to join in. 

If this is your first time, simply include the quote and write your thoughts on it.  We often end up with different ways of looking at a quote which makes it even more interesting. 

See you on Tuesday!


The Reluctant Entertainer

Are you a reluctant entertainer?  Do you feel like everything has to be perfect?
  • An amazing meal
  • A perfectly clean house
  • Interesting conversation
  • Well behaved children
You get the idea!

Having such high expectations would be enough for me to throw in the towel and say ...never!

That's where Sandy Coughlin comes in handy.  I've been following her blog and her tag line is ...real entertaining for real people.

Sandy's written a book called "The Reluctant Entertainer" and she's here to rescue us wanna be entertainers.

Melissa of The Inspired Room is offering a giveaway: an apron, tea towel and a copy of Sandy's book.  You can link to her post here and learn more.

I created the widget below to accumulate opinions about Sandy's new book.  If you've read the book, feel free to share and interact directly below. 


Although I'm not doing much entertaining lately, I certainly hope that will change in the near future.

Blessings and love,


In Other Words Tuesday ~ Waiting

It's In Other Words Tuesday and I'm linking up with Tami of The Next Step.

The following quote was chosen by Tami:

I often admire people who get to fulfill their calling in the spotlight. 

I think of:
  • Beth Moore who has an incredible gift of teaching from God's Word
  • Max Lucado; this man can churn out several books a year and they're all good
  • Sandi Patty, Mandisa and Michael W. Smith can sing and lead us in worship

And I love it!  I've been blessed by each one of them as they're obedient to God's call on their lives.

Years ago, I had my own dreams of speaking and writing.  I enrolled in a Dale Carnegie speaking program and received four pens for my talks.  I was asked to return as a graduate assistant to demonstrate each type of speech for the new students.  It was an honor and a good experience for me.

I worked as a cardiovascular nurse specialist for 25 years.  This photo was taken on my last day of work with Dr. Scott Robertson.  We worked together for more than ten years.  I gave some speeches and taught a few workshops for heart patients but speaking never became my fulltime job.

After leaving nursing, I attended CLASS; Christian Leaders, Authors and Speakers Seminar with the Littauer's in Maryland.  I learned to think on my feet and prepare talks and Bible studies.

But life always seemed to get in the way.  For the last few years, I've worked with my husband in his entrepreneurial endeavors.  I've learned so much about technology, social media, consulting and even HTML. 

On occasion, I wondered if I was missing God's call on my life.  But I refused to give up hope.

Heart Choices was a name the Lord had given to me about 15 years ago.  When domains were available, I registered both the .com and .org.  I also registered the trademark with the state.  I wasn't sure what the Lord would have me do with it though.

And then ...I discovered blogging!

I began blogging back in 2007 but not on a regular basis.  Over time, I discovered my voice and prayed about what God would have me share.  I realized that heart choices weren't always about heart health but involved spiritual issues as well. 

Heart Choices isn't a wildly popular blog compared to so many others.  But it's become a ministry for me.  It doesn't really matter if I get one comment or twenty.  I don't want to be into numbers and comparisons.  If one person is blessed or helped, I'm blessed.

I've always loved to mentor and to be mentored.  With blogging, I get the best of both worlds.  Bloggers come in all ages and levels of spiritual maturity.  And we get to interact with each other.

So, I'm content in the place I am right now.  I don't know where God will lead me next. 

But I have faith to  believe He will show me ...in His time. 

And I'll be patiently waiting.

Blessings and love,


Praying the Names of God ~ Husband


I'm back to studying 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 of God as ISH or Husband.

God is the ideal husband, the One who protects and provides for His people.  He does not abandon us or divorce us.

  • In the Old Testament, ISH (meaning husband), symbolized the ideal relationship between God and Israel. 
  • In the New Testament, Jesus is revealed as the sacrificial bridegroom of the church.
According to Ann's study, our destiny and our greatest purpose as God's people is to become His bride.

What a beautiful analogy!

As a believer, God wants you to know Him as your protector, provider and lover of your soul.  He is so faithful, unlike many human relationships. We can always count on Him.  His love is unfailing.

"For your Maker is your husband --
the Lord Almighty is His  name --

the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
He is called the God of all the earth. 
The LORD will call  you back
as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit --

a wife who married young,
only to be rejected," says your God.
"For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
In a surge of anger
I hid my face from you for a moment

but with everlasting kindness
I will have compassion on you,"
say the LORD your Redeemer.
Isaiah 54:5-8
There have been too many times when I've wandered seeking my own way. 

How thankful I am that God loves me and continues to call me back to Himself.  He is so faithful.

Blessings and love,


Finding Freedom

What does freedom mean to you? 

Some people think it means being free to do whatever they want to do.  They don't want anyone to tell them what to do and don't want to answer to anyone. 

That can be a recipe for disaster as someone always seem to get hurt in the process.

Christ came to set us free.

As believers, we are free from the condemnation of sin.  Jesus paid the penalty for our sins.  I'm so grateful to know that I am already declared righteous before God.

But I still have to live in this world and deal with my flesh. 

I want the acts of service that I do to come from a heart of love.  I want my motive to be pure and not feel pressured by others or to please others. 

However, it can be so easy to say yes to so many good things. 

Have you ever agreed to serve on a church committee or felt pressured to volunteer?  After all, if you say no who will do it? 

But there are times when we can become so busy serving that we longer take the time to be still before Him.  We  may find that all of those good things weren't what He called us to do after all.  And wouldn't it be sad to find that we missed out on His best for us because we were simply too busy?

I love to  read from a devotional called Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young.
I can't tell you how many times these writings have touched my heart.
Here's an excerpt from the July 22 message:

"Find freedom through seeking to please Me above all else.  You can have only one Master.  When you let others' expectations drive you, you scatter your energy to the winds.  Your own desire to look good can also drain your energy.  I am your Master, and I do not drive you to be what you are not.  Your pretense displeases Me, especially when it is in My "service."  Concentrate on staying close to Me at all times.  It is impossible to be inauthentic while you are focusing on My Presence."

How about you?  Do you ever feel so overwhelmed with activities?  Have you ever felt resentful that you always seem to be the one who voluteers?  What is the motive for your busyness?

Many people are involved in activities and ministries they are truly called to do.  But I think it's important to examine our motives. 

I hope this gives each one of us something to think and pray about, including me.


Thankful Thursday ~ Encouragement

It's Thankful Thursday and we're linking up with Lynne at Spiritually Unequal Marriage
It really helps me to write these Thankful Thursday posts because I'm on the lookout all week.  It's really a matter of perspective.  And there's always something to be grateful for.

I'm so thankful for:
  • Meeting my blogging friend Barbie of My Freshly Brewed Life and her two friends
  • Receiving a beautiful Norwegian cookbook from Sonja of bits & pieces and her sis Carol Joy
  • The opportunity to have lunch with my prayer partner Helen
  • A surprise airline ticket from my friend Terri to attend my niece's wedding in Florida 
  • The air conditioning has worked all week without problems
  • Spending time online with Joan Davis of The Beauty in His Grip (I recommend that you follow this one)
  • Receiving an email from Martha, my neighbor at my previous home.  She wrote that I was missed and invited me to attend their monthly coffees.
  • My Uncle Bob sent me a precious note tellling me he was proud to be my uncle.  It doesn't get any better than that.
You know encouragement is a wonderful gift.  And I've been blessed by so many of you and I really appreciate that. 

Iris of Grace Alone and Laced with Grace and I had the opportunity to speak on the phone this past weekend.  Just hearing her voice was an encouragement to me.  

So take those opportunities to encourage one another.  Life is hard enough.  When we join together and pray for one another and love one another ...it makes life sweeter and more enjoyable.

Blessings and love,


Cooking and Love

What does LOVE look like in your home?

Love is in the air at my home again this week!  I was on the lookout for it. 

This is Greg and my dad.  Another reason ...love is in the air.

It's really been a very challenging season for Greg and me. 

But cooking and love?

Greg took the time and effort to make me several meals this week.  He's so creative and never uses recipes.  He's the master of taking leftovers and whipping up the most tasty food you can imagine.  A little of this, a little of that ...and yummy!

On Saturday morning, he made me breakfast in bed with eggs, pancakes and sausage.  I know it's not the lowest calorie meal but it was made with love

Greg loves to use the crockpot because he can really gook it all up.  He made a fabulous stew that will last for a few more meals.  Thank you honey!

Love was also demonstrated as Greg sat with me and watched my favorite movie for the upteenth time.  It is "Chariots of Fire".

Whenever it gets to my favorite line in the movie, Greg looks over at me when I say "God made me fast.  And when I run ...I feel His pleasure."

Now, I have to reciprocate and watch all of the Rocky movies with Greg.  But I guess that's part of LOVE, isn't it?

If you have any stories of love to share this week, link over to Joanne at One So Blessed. 

Blessings and love,


Heart Renovation

I was born with a broken heart. 

It wasn't the kind you may be thinking.  I had a congenital heart defect called an atrial septal defect.  It's a hole between the two upper chambers of the heart.  Mine was about the size of a fifty cent piece.

Today with all of the advances in technology it's quite easy to repair, even on infants.

But in 1953 when I was born, it was a different story.  After all, the heart lung machine had only been in use for a short time.  The risk of complications and death was quite high.  So the cardiologist told my parents to keep me quiet and wait until the technology advanced and improved.

It's weird but I always knew I was different.  Since I wasn't able to run and play with the other children, I spent much time alone.  In my childish mind, I tried to imagine how the surgeon would eventually repair that hole in my heart.

My heart was fixed in two different ways in 1960.

On July 20, 1960 (50 years ago today), I had open heart surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.  I was seven years old.  The surgery was a success and I'm in excellent health today.  I have no restrictions on my activities.

This is Dr. James Malm (my heart surgeon) and me when I was 18 years old.

I had a more permanent fix in my  heart that same year. 

I prayed to received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.  Mrs. Anderson, my grandparents' pastor's wife asked me to go for a drive with her several days before my surgery.  She explained why I needed Jesus and if I had any questions.  I'd heard the Gospel before and understood. I prayed at that time to invite Him into my heart.

However, it wasn't really until about 15 years ago that I really surrendered my heart to Him.  I was in desperate need of a heart renovation in my attitude and actions.  Instead of simply holding a free ticket to heaven, I wanted to grow in my relationship with my Abba Daddy.  I wanted the God sized hole in my heart to be filled to overflowing with His love.  And that could only happen when I gave myself fully to Him. 

He could then work in me and through me as He began to change me ...from the inside out. 

I'm so thankful for this heart renovation that continues to this day.  He teaches me lessons and prunes me.  The trials and challenges in my life are more opportunities to trust Him and to allow Him to conform me to His Son's image.  My suffering is never wasted.

How about you?  Is your heart pliable?  Are you willing to continue to grow?  Or do you feel like you've already arrived and are comfortable where you are? 

I believe the Lord will continue to peel away those layers from our heart but we must cooperate. 

So, are  you willing to allow Him to do His work in you?

Blessings and love,


A Bloggy Meeting

Have you ever met any of your blogging buddies in person?  I've had the pleasure of meeting about a dozen over the course of my blogging life and I have to say ...I've never been disappointed.

Today was no exception!  Guess who was crazy enough to be vacationing in Phoenix in the middle of summer? 

Besides having the pleasure of meeting Barbie for breakfast at Paradise Bakery (a favorite of mine), I also got to meet two of her closest friends Laura and Kristin.  So now I have two more wonderful friends.

When the three of them arrived, I had to laugh.  The atmosphere in Paradise Bakery changed.  There was laughter and smiles and hugs all around.  Who would have guessed it was the first time we met?

Barbie is from Northern California where it's much cooler right now.  Kristin moved to Phoenix several years ago, so she and Lauren came to visit her. 

I loved each one of these gals!  There's something about Christian sisters.  We all had something wonderful in common ...our personal relationship with the  Lord. 

This is a photo of Barbie and me.

This is Laura and Kristin. 

Of course, Barbie and I had to share some of what we've learned through blogging and the relationships we've formed.  We promised to email each other some of our favorite blogs we often visit. Of couse, now I will be Facebook friends with Laura and Kristin.  I'm so glad Kristin lives locally as I hope we get to visit again.  And as I was sharing during our conversation, Laura stopped and started praying for my concern.  I was so touched by this!

I think the Lord knew that I could use a dose of real life bloggy love today.  And that's exactly what I received. 

I encourage you to visit Barbie at My Freshly Brewed Life

How about you?  Have you met any bloggy friends in real life?

Blessings and love,


My Norwegian Sisters

If you've followed Heart Choices for any time now, you probably know that I'm Norwegian.  Yes, I was born in the US and so were my parents.  That's my mom in the photo above.  But both sets of grandparents were immigrants from Norway. 

There's even a town north of Trondheim that is called Sumstad, which is my maiden name. 

It was common to take the name of the town as a last name when people left their homeland to go to the US.  That's what my grandfather did.

Some of you may know Sonja from her blog bits & pieces ...

Her mother was born in Tromso, Norway.  We've discovered so many commonalities between us that we just know we must be related. 

I'm originally from Long Island and Sonja's father once pastored a church on Long Island.  Hmm ...

Sonja and her sister Carol Joy are like adopted sisters to me.  They recently traveled to Tromso, Norway where Carol Joy's daughter got married.  You must stop and visit Sonja's blog to see the photos.

Much to my surprise, I had a special package sent to me.  Sonja and Carol Joy bought a Norwegian cookbook for me and signed the inside cover with the most beautiful messages.  I was so touched by their kind words. 

I posed my Norwegian doll next to the cookbook so you could see it.  It will be treasured by me for years to come.

And one day I hope to be able to meet my new Norwegian sisters in person.  Thank you Sonja and Carol Joy.

Blessings and love,


Love is in the Air

What does LOVE look like in your home?

What does love look like in my home? 

Wow; what a question to ask but ask she did. 

Joanne of One So Blessed created a new meme with an opportunity for us to link up.  And what better message to share than ...LOVE!

So, back to the question ...

Love in my home is when my husband Greg really listens to me.  You know we women tend to use many more words than men.  I like to give details and Greg likes to get down to the bottom line. 

But there are times when he sees me so excited about something.  Or the time I came home after a get together with my blogging friend Kathleen of Sassy Granny (and yes I'll be seeing her on Friday to say goodbye as she moves to the Seattle area). 

Greg will tell me to sit down and to give him all of the details.  He smiles and has me sit really close to him.  I have to say those are some of the times when I feel so loved by him.

Is love in the air at your home? 

Blessings and love,


Running the Race

Laced With Grace
Our faith walk can be compared to running a long distance race.  We need endurance to continue to the end.

God often chooses to use the weak, the not so smart, the unknown to do His best Kingdom work in this world.  It's the willing and obedient heart that He's seeking.

Hop over to read "Running the Race" at Laced with Grace ...


Faithful Bloggers ~ Psalm 23

I'm participating in a Christian Group Writers Project on Faithful Bloggers.  It is based on the 23rd Psalm.  We were given the opportunity to chose one of the six verses from this Psalm.  I chose to write on verse 5.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies,
You aniont my  head with oil; my cup overflows.
Psalm 23:5

Hmm ...preparing a table in front of my enemies.  Do I really have enemies?  

Well, if Jesus is the Lord of my life ...I will have enemies.

You see, as I submit to His leading He transforms me from the inside out.  That means change.  And frankly, not everyone is happy with change.  Inevitably, there will be conflict. 

I may not have people fighting against me with physical weapons but ...words can be hurtful.

It's so important for me to spend time alone with the Lord daily as I feast at His table of love. 

Table preparation takes time and can't be rushed. 

(Photo Credit: Bountiful Magazine)

In my imagination I'm seated at a lovely table setting like this one with the sound of the waves and the smell of salt air. 

But it's His Word that I feast on daily.  Reading, speaking and praying His Word. 

As I come before the Lord each morning, I receive His fresh anointing for that day.  I remember who I belong to and that He is the Good Shepherd who cares for me.  His Holy Spirit is overflowing as I allow  Him to work in me and through me.  I become saturated in His love and that love ...overflows to others.

(Photo Credit: Away Network)

My salvation cannot be taken away.  I belong to Him forever.

Thank you Jesus!


TSMSS~ I Give You My Heart

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

This week I chose the song "I Give You My Heart" as the words have such meaning for me.  My desire is to trust God with all of my heart. 

I hope you enjoy listening to the Oslo Gospel Choir sing it.  My sweet blogging friend Sonja is attending her niece's wedding in Tromso, Norway.  I've really missed her this week.  We're both Norwegian and so she and Carol Joy have 'adopted' me as the third sister.  They are so cute.  You may know her from her blog bits & pieces...

Blessings and love,

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