Heart Choices: October 2010

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Giving Thanks Challenge 2010


Are you ready for November?  Before you know it, Thanksgiving will be upon us.  I decided to join in with Leah of South Breeze Farm in Iowa for her annual Giving Thanks Challenge.  This is Leah's 4th year to host this one.  It's not too late for you to sign up too.

Here's the challenge. 

Make the choice to focus on at least one thing each day during the month of November for which you are thankful.  You may choose to write a blog post about it or simply keep a running list on your sidebar with dates from November 1-30 with the Giving Thanks Challenge button. 

After a while, you'll be amazed at how you become more alert to things for which you are grateful. 

Are you up for this challenge?

I encourage you to hop over to visit Lea in Iowa at the South Breeze Farm and sign up.

Blessings and love,


TSMSS ~ No More Night

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

I'm so thankful to the Lord for His blessings.  I'm amazed at how He uses ordinary people who become extraordinary because of who they belong to; children of the Most High God. 

I've been friends with the Burgess family since their daughter Ellie was in my Bible Study Fellowship children's class.  She was only two years old at the time and since then she's grown into a young lady.  Although this family has since moved from Arizona to San Antonio, Texas they continue to be an important part of my life. 
Todd and Jamie

I received a box of blessings from them which included a coffee grinder and an assortment of coffees.  Only Jamie would remember how much I love my coffee.  But also included in the package was a CD of songs she had compiled especially for me. 

I'm going to share one of the songs called "No More Night" sung by David Phelps.  I cried (remember I'm getting emotional lately) as I listened to the words to this song.

I also wanted to share a few photos of Jamie with you. 
Jamie and me
Jamie and her five kids
I pray that you will be a blessing to someone today.  There's so many people who are hurting and in pain.  Sometimes all it takes is a phone call or a card.
  • Janette of Janette's Sage emails me words of encouragement.  The link I provided to her blog will also give you an example of the kind of Godly woman she is.
  • Anna May:  your listening ear was just what I needed yesterday.
  • Kathleen of Sassy Granny called me at just the right time; only God. And guess what? She's coming back to Phoenix to visit her sister who lives fairly close to me. So I will get to see Kathleen in person this week.  Woo hoo!  The link I provided to her blog shares the story of her homecoming.
There are so many more examples I could share with you from this week alone.  God is good and He sees into our hearts and knows all that impacts us.  How amazing is that?  I long for "No More Night" but in the meantime may we encourage one another to be a blessing to someone this week.

Thank you Lord for those who make the heart choice to step out of their comfort zone to touch another person's heart.

Blessings and love,


Friday Photo Flashback ~ Norway

Friday Photo Flashback
It's another Friday Photo Flashback when I link up with Alicia of More Than Words.  We get to share  pre-digital camera photos.  It's always fun to pull out my boxes of photos to find a few to share.

The photos I posted were from a trip to Norway in 1985.  My parents were going to visit many of our relatives and so I got to tag along.  I figured Mom and Dad were fluent in the Norwegian language so it would make things so much easier.

This photo was taken in Trondheim, Norway.  From left to right is my cousin Kjell's sister Hildur, Tante Agnes, me, Tante Haldis and my mom. I was amazed at how energetic these ladies were.  We actually hiked up hills to get to an ice cream shop.  I know we worked off all the calories.

This is my mom and dad overlooking the family farm in Sumstad, Norway.

Sumstad is my maiden name.  Here I am with Dad and Mom in front of the town's sign.

Maybe you have some photos you'd like to share?  It's not too late to link up with Alicia at More Than Words.

Blessings and love,

Seven Questions from Sandy

Sandy of .faith hope and love is a blogging friend that I've only recently come to know and love.  And believe me, Sandy is all about love.  She recently sent me seven questions to answer and I'm happy to oblige. 

The seven questions posts are an opportunity to get to know one another better and I'm all for that.  So, here are Sandy's questions for me:

1.  When did you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

I invited Jesus into my heart when I was seven years old.  I was about to go into the hospital for open heart surgery and this was 1960.  At that time, the risks were much higher than they are today so the pastor's wife, Mrs. Anderson took me for a drive in her car.  She explained the Gospel to me as we sat in the car outside my elementary school.  I understood and readily prayed the prayer.

Although I knew that Jesus was my Savior since that day, it wasn't until many years later that He became Lord of my life.  My paternal grandmother died January 1, 1994.  As I was sitting at her memorial service celebrating her entrance into heaven, I felt so convicted by the Holy Spirit that I wasn't growing in my faith and I needed to return to church.  Since that time, I have had such a hunger for God and the Word.  My life has changed in so many ways and I will never turn back to a life of mediocre Christianity.

2.  What is the first thing you're going to say to Jesus when you see Him face-to-face?

I don't think I will be able to speak as I'll probably fall on my face before Him.

3.  What qualities do you look for most in a friend?

Someone who I can be myself with and let down my hair.  In fact, no makeup would be preferable.  I look for loyalty and someone I can easily pray with.  It's important that they not be a gossip and all I share stays between us. 

Helen is one of my closest friends.  We've been prayer partners for more than 15 years.  She's stuck with me through good times and bad and I appreciate that.  I know this isn't a typical friend picture but we had a sleepover one year.  Figures we both love the color RED.

4.  What type of clothing do you enjoy wearing on a regular basis?

I love to wear t-shirts and jeans.  My favorite shoes are flip flops in the hot months and clogs in the winter.

5.  Do you have any hobbies?

I love to hike the mountains, dabble in photography, reading and blogging.

6.  How many brothers and sisters do you have and are you close?

My brother Steve is 18 months older than me and my sister Christine is seven years younger.  So, I'm the middle child.  Steve and Chris both live in Florida and I'm the only one in my family who is out west in Arizona. But the three of us remain close.  In fact, my brother calls me several times a week which I love.  And my sister and I get to talk often too.

Christine and Steve

Steve and me

Me, Katie (niece) and Chris (my sis)

7.  Describe yourself in seven words or less.

Loyal, friendly, warm, caring, romantic, loving, and strong

Thank you Sandy of .faith hope and love for tagging me.  You will be blessed to visit her blog.

Blessings and love,


I'm A Work in Progress

It's week 6 (final week) of Makeover of the Heart study with Tracy Berta At the Well.  I'm actually one week late.

As a person who normally keeps my emotions under control, I have to confess that I feel so exhausted.  But I do believe the Lord has been peeling back some of the layers I built up around my heart.  So it's a good thing!

I am a work in progress!
  • I listened to all of Tracy's videos
  • I've done the Bible readings
  • I read and answered all of the questions on the handout sheets
I am realizing more and more that love is a choice

What can happen when I choose to open my  heart?
  • I risk being hurt
  • I feel more deeply
  • I'm more vulnerable
But in the process I also get to:
  • Trust God with my heart
  • Receive more love
  • Give more love
This past week has been a difficult one for me.  I see God at work in my life as He opens new opportunities.  However, I need to step out in obedience even though I don't know where it all leads.  I like to know where I'm going.  You know, give me a road map and I'm off and running.

But walking by faith requires ...trust and obedience. 

It always seems to come back to my 2010 theme.  After all, this is my year to learn to live fearlessly.

A few of the important lessons I've learned through A Makeover of the Heart are:
  • God wants me to trust Him completely with my heart.
  • God is trustworthy and knows what is best for me.
  • God has a plan for my life and I don't need to know every detail.
  • I am to live a life of prayer.
  • I am to be still and  know that He is God.

I highly recommend Makeover of the Heart.  It's a great online Bible study and can still be accessed for all six weeks.

Since I'm a work in progress, I may take a few steps back now and then.  But I know the Lord won't leave me there and I'm so grateful for that.

How about you?  Are you trusting God with your heart?

Blessings and love,


TSMSS ~ Lord I Believe in You

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

Have you ever had a moment when a song ministered to you?

Yesterday, I was driving into town (I used to live in town but now it takes me 45 minutes).  So much has been going on lately and I was just so weary.  I turned on the CD and listened to this song over and over again. 

The Brooklyn Tabernacle choir is awesome!  I've attended church services while in NYC several times and so I had the opportunity to hear them in person.  This song is called "Lord I Believe in You".  I added the lyrics below and some of them are in Spanish.  It's like getting a little a glimpse into the heavenly choir  with people from all tribes and nations.

Lord I Believe in You ~ Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Though I can't see, your Holy Face
And your throne in heaven above,
it seems so far away.
And though I can't touch, can't touch your nail scarred hands,
I have a deep unspeakable joy that makes my faith to stand.


Lord I believe in You
I'll always believe in You.
Though I can't see You with my eyes,
Deep in my heart your presence I find.

Lord I believe in you, And I'll keep my trust in you,
Let this whole world, say what they may, no one can take
This joy away, Lord I believe.

Enviado del cielo Eres aquel escojido por Dios
Eres el unico y cierto camino
Hasta su corazón
Moriste en la cruz Resucitaste y hoy vives en mí
Venciste al pecado y la muerte
¡Y ahora soy libre al fin!

Cristo yo creo en ti Yo siempre creeré en ti
Aunque no puede verte Señor,
Eres real en mi corazón!
Cristo yo creo en ti.
Por siempre creeré en ti.
Aunque se nigue el mundo a creer
No dejaré mi gozo perder Yo creo en ti

Lord I believe

I believe, Chorus
Happy Saturday!

Blessings and love,


Faith & Happiness

Jam with the Faith Barista
I'm jamming with Bonnie Gray AKA The Faith Barista and I'm a bit late.  Life has been a bit hectic and uncertain for me but I didn't want to miss out on our topic for this week.

Today’s topic: How Does Your Faith Connect To Your Happiness?

Have I been happy lately?  Well, in all honesty ...NO!

You see life isn't always perfect and lovely and how I would like things to be BUT ...
  • I don't know how I would get by without my faith.
  • My current circumstances are temporary.
  • There are important lessons to be learned in the midst of challenges.
  • I have a joy in my heart as I learn to trust God in all things.
  • When I can't see where I'm going, I'm learning to take His hand and allow Him to lead me.
I was reading from a devotional this morning called "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.

Listen to this as if Jesus were speaking to you:

Stephanie and Eric: Photo by Tina
"The best response to losses or thwarted hopes is praise: The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.  Remember that all good things -- your possessions, your family and friends, your health and abilities, your time -- are gifts from Me.  Instead of feeling entitled to all these blessings, respond to them with gratitude.  Be prepared to let go of anything I take from you, but never let go of My hand!"

I love to remember that Hebrews 13:5 says: "...never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

If you'd like to join in this jam session, be sure to link up at the Faith Barista.

Blessings and love,


Are You Trusting God With Today?

In Other Words Tuesday

I’m hosting In Other Words Tuesday this week.  I choose the quote we get to write about.  It’s a good one or at least I think so. 

Here it is:
“The spirit of complaint is born out of an unwillingness to trust God with today. Like the Israelites, it means you are spending your time looking back toward Egypt or wishing for the future, all the while missing what God is doing right now.”
From: One in a Million by Priscilla Shirer

I choose this quote some time ago. But little did I realize how much I would need to be reminded of this important truth now.

The Israelites were under a yoke of slavery in Egypt and Moses was called to lead them out.  They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before finally entering in to the Promised Land.  During those 40 years, there was much complaining and looking back at what they left behind.  I guess they forgot they were slaves, right?  But the food had been good and they were bored with manna; morning, noon and night.

I was living right where I wanted to live for almost 12 years.  But circumstances occurred that were beyond my control and I had to leave my 'Egypt'.   I hadn't been a slave and frankly would have loved to stay for many more years.

But now I'm in the wilderness.  This is not where I plan to stay and yet I don't know what the future will be.  And I like to know and plan so it's frustrating to be in this situation. 

The in between time can be so challenging.

How easy it is to complain and look back at what I lost. 

How easy it is to dream of what may be in the future.

But I don't want to miss out on what the Lord is teaching me today.

What am I learning during my wilderness time?
  • God is my strength and my source of hope.
  • God is trustworthy and will never leave me nor forsake me.
  • I really don't need much stuff to be happy and content.
  • I have more of an understanding for others who are going through difficult circumstances.
  • I'm less inclined to judge a situation, especially when I don't know all the facts.
  • I have friends who love me and care for me no matter where I live.
  • I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
I don't want to miss out on anything God has for me today.  So I'm making the choice to trust Him with my today's and tomorrows.  How about you?

I encourage you to take this quote and write about it on your blog.  You are invited to link up here and visit others who are also participating.  I love how we can each write on the same quote and yet have different thoughts about it. 

Blessings and love,

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer awareness
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. 

I’m so glad there’s such an awareness as PINK seems to be THE COLOR of the month.  This is good!

paradise bakery breast cancer awarenessparadise bakery

Arizona’s Paradise Bakery is baking special pink sugar cookies and all proceeds go to the Phoenix Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  This is good!

boston proper sparkle tee

Boston Proper has a special PINK t-shirt that they offer to increase awareness.  This is good!

I’ve had many friends and even relatives impacted by this disease.  As many of you know, we have blogging friends who are currently dealing with this horrible disease.

When I was a kid on Long Island, they used to have trucks that drove around our neighborhoods openly spraying bug spray.  Usually, it was during the summer time when the mosquitos were present.  The visible white spray would come out the back.  Kids would ride their bicycles behind the truck for fun!

Can you believe that?

I’ve often wondered if any of those chemicals caused cancer since there seem to be so many impacted.
I lost a wonderful friend several years ago to breast cancer.  Maria and I were friends since high school. 

Maria Debbie

She even spent time with me in Arizona after she'd been diagnosed. 

Maria was with me when I got the dreaded phone call when my mother died.  She was there beside me offering comfort.  Little did I know that she would be gone a little over a year later.

breast cancer lori of internet cafe devotions

I especially loved this graphic that was included in an article written by Lori Macmath on the Internet Café site.  It was called “Just Taking Care of the Temple”.  I recommend you hop over and read it for yourself. 

It's a good reminder and reason why we should pay attention!
So, in case you’re not getting this message loud and clear …get your mammograms and do your monthly breast exams.

Is there anything you are doing to get the word out to raise awareness for breast cancer this month? 

Have you been impacted by this disease or have loved ones who are?

Let’s do all we can to end this disease, OK?!

Blessings and love,
P.S. I experimented with this blog post using Windows Live Writer and I'm still trying to figure out a few things yet, like spacing!

Seven Questions

I was tagged by Melanie of Mel's Coffee Break

She gave me 7 questions to answer.

So here goes:

1.  What is your life slogan / verse / motto?

  Matthew 5:16 "...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

2.  What one piece of advice would you give to your "younger" self is you could?

Sin is fun 'for a time' but there are consequences.  Instead follow God and don't get sidetracked.

3.  What do you enjoy most about blogging?

That's easy; it's getting to know my blogging friends.  During this season of my life, I've not been able to be out socializing very much.  Having blogging friends has been a joy and an encouragement. And I've even met a few in person.

4.  Do you have any dreams that have been on the back-burner that you still would like to achieve?

I'd love to write a nonfiction book called "Heart Choices" and speak.

5.  What is something new you would like to learn?

I'd love to learn to kayak.  I have good upper body strength so I think I could do this.  Oh and one more ...

I'd also like to learn to speak Norwegian fluently.  I know some but not enough to carry on a conversation.  I use Google translate to communicate with my Norwegian relatives.

6.  What is something about you that we would be surprised to learn?

I'm afraid of heights.  Greg took me skiing on our honeymoon and I freaked out after getting off the ski lift.  I once had to sit on the floor of a gondola because it was windy and we were so high up.  I couldn't look out at the view even though we were in Norway.

7.  If you found $100 bill, (lucky you!) what would you buy?

Right now, I'd give it to someone in need.  I've not been able to do that much lately and I love to help others.  OR maybe I'd get my hair cut?  :)

OK ...so now I have 7 questions to ask the following bloggers (and btw, if you don't like to participate in this that's fine):

1.  Janette of Janette's Sage
2.  Tammi of A Vessel in the Potter's Hand
3.  Amanda of My Secret Garden
4.  Lea of CiCi's Corner
5.  Jocelyn (Godsgalnj) of His Kindness Yet Pursues Me
6.  Sonja of bits and pieces
7.  Cindy of Letters from Midlife

Here are your 7 questions:

1.  If you could travel anywhere with no thought to cost, where would you choose to go?
2.  What song would you choose for someone to sing at  your funeral? 
3.  If you could spend a day with anyone, (dead or alive) who would you choose?
4.  What do you want people to remember you by?  (since I got a bit morbid) 
5.  Are you a early morning person or a night owl?
6.  What is your favorite meal to prepare?
7.  What would a perfect day be like for you?

I'm looking forward to reading your anwers!  And no pressure to post immediately ...

Blessings and love,


TSMSS ~ Amazing Grace

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

A friend shared this video on Facebook recently and I was blown away.  This little seven year old child has a voice like an angel.  I hope you enjoy listening to Rhema Marvanne.  I have the feeling we'll be hearing more from this little one in the future.  To God be the glory ...

Happy Saturday!

Blessings and love,


Friday Photo Flashback ~ 1960

Friday Photo Flashback

It's Friday Photo Flashback when I link up with Alicia at More Than Words.  If you have any pre-digital photos that you'd like to share, why not join in?

This photo was taken in January of 1960 when my sister Christine was born.  Pictured is my dad and mom, my brother Steve and me and baby Christine Elaine Sumstad. 

I was so excited as I wanted a sister.  My brother was a little disappointed at first since he had hoped for a brother.  But he got used to her. :)  These were the days before ultrasound so you didn't know what sex the baby was until they were born.

I had to laugh as I noticed my dad had a headful of hair; he's bald now.  And check out those curtains. I guess they were in style in 1960?

Blessings and love,


A Prayerful Heart

A prayerful heart is the focus for our 5th week of A Makeover of the Heart.  Tracy Berta provides a downloadable study guide and a video for you to view on her post At the Well.

How thankful I am to be in a personal relationship with Almighty God.  He is Sovereign.  He knows the beginning and the end.  He sees all and knows all.  He is able to see into my heart.  Nothing escapes Him.

I cannot hide behind a mask of being a good Christian doing lots of good deeds.  God sees the true motives in my heart.

Relationship requires communication.  I communicate with God through prayer.  So many verses of Scripture confirm for me that God wants me to pray.

So each morning I begin my day with the Lord. My Bible and journal are open and I sit quietly as I drink my first cup of coffee.  If the weather permits, I love to sit outside on the patio.  In quietness and solitude I come to be filled to overflowing with His Spirit with an open and willing heart.
  • I acknowledge who He is.
  • I praise and worship Him.
  • I tell Him my concerns.
  • I bring my petitions before Him for myself and others.
  • I believe that He hears me and loves me.   
  • I thank Him.
I listen with a desire to hear Him.  I read His Word expectantly.  Sometimes a verse will stand out or there's a strong impression on my heart.  I record what I learn in my journal.

As I leave this morning time of prayer, it's just the beginning.  Throughout the day, I'm more attentive to that still small voice or prompting by His Holy Spirit.  After all, He may have a Divine appointment for me and I don't want to miss it. 

I'm less dependent on others to fill my needs since I've already been filled.  Whatever my loved ones give to me is extra.  I no longer demand that others meet all my needs.

Tracy shared how we live in a world that has come to expect "instant gratification". 

Instant messages, drive through fast food restaurants, microwave meals ...
Photo Credit: Megan Littell

Being still and waiting doesn't come naturally.

As I look back in my prayer journal, I find my concerns and prayer requests.  In hindsight, I can see that God was actively at work in my life.  Sometimes the answer to a prayer might be yes, no or wait.

I've gone through many seasons of trials.  I've seen that in the midst of my most difficult times, He has been with me.  I've learned valuable lessons I would otherwise not have learned. 

I've learned to trust Him even if I don't see the answer YET.

Although I've been tempted to take things into my own hands, when I've waited on His answer ...I've not been disappointed.  Taking action on my own complicates things.

I'm a work in progress, constantly learning and growing. Sometimes I falter and take a few steps backwards.  But the Lord is so patient with me.

How about you?  Do you take everything to the Lord in prayer?  Do you only share the 'big things' or do you talk to Him about everything?

Blessings and love,

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