Heart Choices: 2011 -->

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What One Simple Thing Could you Do to Take Care of Yourself Today?

I'd love to share some profound wisdom as a new year is fast approaching.  But today, I needed to do something simple to take care of myself.

I need my car.  It's almost 12 years old and has well over 100,000 miles on it.  I used to take such good care of my car; keeping up with maintenance and having it washed every Saturday.

However, lately it seems that I put the key in my car, get on the freeway to go to work each day as I pray that it won't break down despite the brake light being on for some time now.

I'm happy to report that during my two weeks off from work, I got new brakes and four new tires!  I  know my work partner Heidi will be happy to hear this news.  :)

Many years ago I read a book called "One Minute For Yourself".  I remembered that one of the questions in the book was to ask yourself the question "what is one simple thing you could do right this minute to help you feel better?"  The author gave an example of getting his car washed.

So on this December 31, 2011 morning I took my car to the car wash.  Not a big deal but ...check this out!

My 2000 Lexus looked almost brand new!  And it worked as I did one thing to take care of myself right now.  The inside is clean and I feel better driving it.

And since I've changed my perspective as I've been counting my everyday blessings, I even noticed the beautiful waterfall at the car wash.  Go figure ...

There's beauty all around us.  We just have to take the time to notice.

Let me ask you the question.

What one simple thing could you do right now to take care of yourself? 

Blessings and love,


Word-filled Wednesday ~ He is Always With Me

These past few years have been very challenging for me.  I haven't been able to see in advance what would happen next. God asks me to walk with Him even when I don't know where we're going.  It's called walking by faith and He has my best interests at heart.

What I'm learning is that ...God is trustworthy.

I'm linking up with the Internet Cafe Devotions for Word-filled Wednesday.

Blessings and love,


Interview with Lisa Shaw

Lisa Shaw has become a good friend to me.  You may know her through her blog Lisa Shaw Cares.

I had the opportunity to meet Lisa in person and I can say that ...Lisa really does care.  She's the real deal and is a joy to know.

Lisa published her first eBook entitled "You Are Beautiful in God's Eyes".  I asked Lisa questions regarding this new venture and I want to share her answers with you.

1.      “You Are Beautiful in God’s Eyes” seems to be so personal to you Lisa.  Why did you choose to write this book now?

For 10 years I have tried to finish writing a book. I have several started on my hard drive or on paper but never completed.  Several reasons for that but one day, the end of May of this year, I was at lunch with my friend Johnine.  I was showing her a very small pocket-sized booklet written by Marilyn Hickey that I’ve had since 1999. It spoke about how God uses women in His kingdom purposes, a subject that has always been important to me especially in the roles in which God uses my life.  As I shared with Johnine she was not very interested in hearing about that booklet but rather she asked the question that has changed my life and the lives of others and I’m so humbled by that and grateful to God!  The question she asked was, “Lisa, where is your booklet?”  During the 30 minute ride home from lunch I pondered that question. I asked myself, “Lisa, where is your booklet?” I began to cry. I began to pray. With hot tears streaming down my face I heard myself ask God, “Abba Father, where is my booklet”.  Within my heart I could hear Him say, “Within you”.  I began over the next day or so.  I prayed and asked God what to write about. He gave me the topic from the heart of which I’ve lived and from which I’ve ministered to many women over the years; helping them to see themselves through God’s eyes.   I laid my hands to the keyboard and the Holy Spirit took over.  Within two months You Are Beautiful In God’s Eyes was completed by God’s grace.  By the beginning of September it was published and in my hands. That was all God!

2.     In your ministry, do you see many Christian women who struggle with these issues of not feeling beautiful?  Doesn't becoming a Christian heal those areas of hurt?

Yes Debbie, many women struggle with seeing themselves through God’s eyes--the eyes of His Word.  Often women in certain positions of ministry or business are apprehensive about admitting that.  I have also found that at times women who have been saved a long time are also timid in being transparent in this area.  We must get beyond the masks, titles and positions and be transparent about the wounds we carry around so that we can seek Jesus for full healing and wholeness and live the lives He’s provided for us to live abundantly.

Becoming a Christian does not automatically heal the hurts.  That is why we can be a Christian for so many years and live discouraged, depleted and defeated.  The healing begins when we walk in genuine fellowship with the Lord and answer His question.  He asks, “Do you want to be made whole?” as He asked the man at the pool in John 5.  We have to be willing to answer that question. We have to want the healing that Jesus provides. The woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5 went after her physical healing.  The sinful woman in Luke 7 went after her spiritual healing.  Jesus wants us to be healed and whole but we have to want what He is offering to us and then go after it in His Word and in prayer and receive all that He has for us. Not an easy thing to do but doable with His help.  Healing and wholeness in the area discussed in my Book is often not instantaneous.  It’s often a process and that’s ok as long as we begin the process to define ourselves by the Word and not the world by learning what God sees when He looks at us and then daring to believe Him!!

3.     I loved how you addressed 7 reasons why women find it difficult to see themselves as God sees them.  Straddling the fence was a chapter that could have been taken from my life story.  Do you think we in the church miss opportunities to help new believers grow in their faith?  Or is it that people believe that when they pray the prayer inviting Jesus into their heart they have a ticket to heaven and don’t focus on how they are to live NOW?  

Sadly yes, we often do miss opportunities in the church to help new believers to grow in their faith. I would add not just new believers Debbie but struggling Christians and even Christians who have been saved for a very long time. Often when people meet me in ministry circles they ask me one main question:  What church do you attend? I think a better question is, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? How long have you been really walking with Him?”  There’s usually the date we become a Christian and then the date that we really begin to walk with Him up close.  Not true for everyone but often true for many people.

If we reached the heart of the person and not just asking surface questions then we’d probably see people open up more as we show them that we care in Christ about their lives, and that gives opportunity for us to help people more.

4.     How are you getting the word out about the book?  Who is marketing it?  Have social media platforms been helpful to you?    

My hubby and I published the book by God’s grace with a very good company.  Then, God has put this book into hands I would not have anticipated in the last three months. Women of various ages and backgrounds, young ladies and teenagers have read it. I have been told that some husband have read it as well! My book has traveled to India and that blessed my heart.  Our pastor and congregation have embraced the Book without my pursuit or request.  My pastor actually read it at night while on a very intense mission’s trip to Madagascar!   God has opened doors for me to do the Book as a 9 week Bible Study beginning January 4th at the church. As a result I am also working on a Study Guide. I’m excited about the doors God has opened already. I’m looking forward to being invited many places to share God’s story to penetrate the hearts of Christian and non-Christian women!

5.     Do you think this would be a good book to share with women friends who are not Christians? 

Absolutely.  My sister in law, Kenya said that one of things she loves about the Book was that it was not “churchy” sounding and that it was conversational, relatable and relative.  I believe that all women can benefit from the message and prayerfully by the time they read Chapter 7:  Living Apart from His Truth will cause them to give their hearts to Jesus Christ. That chapter was written for that purpose.

6.     Lisa, you are beautiful.  Have you finally come to the point where you truly believe that and see yourself through the lens of God’s eyes? 

 Debbie you are beautiful too!  Yes, I truly believe that I am beautiful in God’s eyes and that was a long journey my friend!  I truly believe that I am defined by His Word and not by the world.  There are times when the enemy will whisper his lies but I have learned how to handle him through 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.  There are times when negative thoughts will creep in my mind or the hurtful words of others will attempt to distract me from my purpose in God but I grab those negative thoughts and hurtful words and cast it down out of my mind and make it subject to Christ. I then fill my mind and my mouth with His Word. I speak His word aloud and encourage myself and fill myself with His truth over and over until my mind is at peace.

 If I could I would hug every woman who reads this and tell her that she is beautiful in God’s eyes. I would encourage her to read His Word and find out what He sees when He looks at her and then, dare to believe Him and live her life based on that truth!

Debbie, you are beautiful in God’s eyes and I love you! Thank you for the opportunity to share more about my book: You Are Beautiful In God’s Eyes.  For Book details and Book purchase or Kindle or Nook information: www.lisashawcares.com

So now go and check out this book of Lisa's.  I read it and loved it.  I was not asked to conduct this interview by Lisa nor was I given anything in exchange for this recommendation.

Blessings and love,


The Habit of Counting Everyday Blessings

Counting everyday blessings has finally become a part of my life.

When I first began to participate in Multitudes on Mondays with Ann of A Holy Experience, I had to intentionally make the choice to focus my attention on searching for everyday  blessings.

I wasn't in the habit of giving thanks for those seemingly ordinary occurrences in life.  But the habit is taking root and for that ...I am thankful!
The weather in the Phoenix area this time of year is beautiful.  The temperature ranges from nights in the low 40's with daytime highs in the 60's.  I'm originally from New York so I grew up with snow and cold winters.  I love to bring out my sweaters but I also get to experience flowers and sun and mountains.

Greg and I had a quiet Christmas this year but much time to spend together.  After all, I'm on a two week break from work.  That's the beauty of working in a school.  When I worked as a nurse, I worked many holidays over the years.

I'm so grateful to my friend Terri for an annual invitation to the Phoenician Holiday Tea.  This tradition began about 14 years ago when Terri's mom was a patient in the cardiology practice where I worked. The three of us went each year at Christmas.  However, Terri's mom died but we've continued the tradition now including her cousin Janet. As we sip tea, we often reminisce about all three of our mothers in heaven.
I wrote about my family's Norwegian American Christmas traditions here.  I was delighted to learn that my niece Katie is interested in continuing many of these traditions.  She lives in Brooklyn, New York as she works as a colorist in a hair salon in Manhattan.  She was home visiting her parents in Florida for Christmas.  I received a call from her mom asking for the family recipe.  So we had the smell of cardamom in Arizona and in Florida!
My dad is in his 80's and is currently living with my sister and her husband.  He's had numerous health issues with his heart over the years but we're so thankful he's doing well now.  He used to love to paint using oils.  But it's been some time since he picked up his paintbrush.  He recently asked me to send him a picture I had taken of The Lone Cypress along 17 Mile Drive in Carmel, California.  He thought it would inspire him to begin painting again.

I was happy to do so but instead I entered a giveaway on Jennifer's Studio JRU blog.  She was offering a 16" x 20" rolled canvas print from UPrinting.com.  I could use the photo I had taken of The Lone Cypress and possibly win a canvas print of it to send to my dad for Christmas.  So I entered and ...I won!
My brother took a photo of my Dad with his gift as I wanted to see what the finished product looked like.  It was beautiful and I hope it will inspire my dad to begin painting again.

#277 Beautiful weather in Phoenix
#278 Two weeks of vacation from work
#279 Wonderful friends who share fun experiences 
#280 Norwegian traditions that are being continued in the Sumstad future generations
#281 The smell of cardamom in the house
#282 A beautiful Christmas church service 
#283 Singing Christmas carols together
#284 Helping a friend begin blogging
#285 Receiving a box of Norwegian treasures from my Aunt Ruth
#286 Seeing the face of my dad smiling despite the miles that separate us
#287 Praise that Greg's mom is getting stronger everyday after several health issues this past year
#288 The fun of reconnecting with friends and family on Facebook
#289 The joy of watching a family friendly movie called "Dolphin Tale" on my new Kindle Fire
#290 The gift of Jesus
#291 Peace with God through Jesus
#292 Joy despite ongoing challenges in life

Will you begin to make the daily choice to be on the lookout for those everyday blessings?  It will change your perspective on life.

Blessings and love,


Norwegian American Christmas Traditions

Christmas traditions create special memories.  Since both sides of my family are from Norway, our celebrations always incorporated many of the foods, decorations and Christmas Eve celebrations.

Now that I've been married for 27 years to someone who is not Norwegian, we've adopted a few of his family's traditions into ours. But I love to remember many of the Christmases when I was growing up.
St. Lucia Day is celebrated on December 13 in Norway.  A girl is chosen to wear a wreath of candles on her head to represent St. Lucia.  My niece Kristin is wearing the wreath at our Sons of Norway Christmas celebration.  Her sister Katie is standing beside her.  (Both girls are grown now)  My friend L-Jay writes all about A Norwegian Christmas on her blog My Little Norway.

Norwegians love their Julenisse or little elves.  Here I have my Norwegian Christmas elf seated with a very American Bullwinkle.  You know us Norwegian Americans!

I love to bake Norwegian Christmas cake every year.  That is one tradition that I will keep.

I love the smell of cardamom.  This is a Norwegian spice that is often used in baking.  My Norwegian waffles wouldn't be the same without cardamom.  I make these every Christmas and many other times during the year.
Although Norwegian meatballs are not a typical meal for Christmas, I love to make it during this season.  I know my dad wishes he lived close by me because this is his favorite meal.  Norwegian meatballs and mashed potatoes and ...Dad has his happy smile on.
Thankfully, my mother gave me many of her beautiful Norwegian linens.  I always put this one on the table every Christmas.
There are always a few Norwegian decorations for the Christmas tree, of course.  Can you find one in this photo?
Photo Credit: Iris Nelson of Grace Alone
One family tradition that has continued is the reading of the story of Jesus' birth from Luke 2.  My grandfather always read it before we began eating dinner.  When he died, my father continued the tradition and still does.
This last photo is one of me that was taken several years ago.  We were living in our dream home and life was good.  However, even though my life has changed in so many ways my faith is strong.  God is good and I never forget the reason for the season; the birth of Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

Blessings and love,


The Wise Men and Gifts

Google Image
Which character in the Christmas story is speaking to you?

This is the question Bonnie of The Faith Barista asked for this week's Faith Barista Jam.

The three wise men or magi speak to me in the Christmas story.

Matthew 2:9-11 says:
"After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh."

The wise men were overjoyed.  Upcoming coming to the house where Jesus was, the first thing they did was open their treasures and present Him with gifts of value.

What do I have of value to offer to Jesus?  

In the Old Testament, sacrifices were offered to God.

But Mark 12:33 says:
"To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices ."

Like the three wise men, I want to offer Jesus something of value.

  • I make the daily choice to give Him my heart. 
  • I choose to allow Him to love others through me.
  • I choose to offer my hands and feet for His use.
  • I choose to allow Him to work in me and through me to impact others.

What character is speaking to you from the Christmas story?

And it's not too late to link up with Bonnie at Faith Barista.


Blessings and love,


WFW ~ The Path of the Righteous

This is the path that began my daily morning hike for years.  There's something so wonderful about seeing the beauty of God's creation and getting exercise.  It gets my creative juices going.  I would climb down the mountain and write my insights into my journal or blog about it.

I no longer live close to this mountain. And I don't get to run up the mountain each morning.  But I've learned other ways of getting that same inspiration that helps me to write.  Having a daily morning quiet time helps me stay on the right path, even when other avenues seem to beckon me.  I will not be shaken!

I'm linking up with Internet Cafe Devotions for Word-Filled Wednesday.

Blessings and love,


Counting Blessings at Christmas

With less than one week until Christmas, I continue to be on the lookout for everyday blessings.

I had a busy week with several Christmas parties and lots of excitement from the children in our school.  It's such fun to be around little children at Christmas.

A wonderful blogging friend named Sonja (wink, wink) sent me a box of treats for "Miss Debbie's Kids".  I gave each child a chocolate covered pretzel to take home.  You should have seen their sweet smiles. :)

I also had the opportunity to spend an evening with friends that I've known for years.  We always have lots of laughs when we get together and this was no exception.
We did pose for a more serious picture but couldn't resist being silly.  Of course, Georgann's husband captured this moment of fun.

Since the weather in Phoenix this past week had been cold and rainy, the children in our class were indoors playing when I arrived at school.  I got to see them play freely in our classroom and got such a kick out of it.  Normally, when I arrive they are out on the playground.
They love to play dress-up.  They also have a little kitchen with pots and pans and enjoy 'baking' pretend food for Heidi and me.

Aanika is wearing this crown on her head because it was her birthday.  She turned four years old.  The children feel so special when they wear their crown all day.  I think she was offering me something she whipped up in the kitchen.  Yummy!
It's so precious to see friendships blossom.  Little Evan and Max have such fun together.  On the playground, they are ferocious as they play Darth Vader or Monsters.  But during story time, I captured this photo of two little boys quietly listening.

 The parents of our kids hosted our class Christmas party.  They were in charge of the food, entertainment, and crafts.  And they did a fabulous job! Here is Maya working on her gingerbread house.

I love Christmas trees and Christmas music.  I finally have two weeks off to get ready.  This is a photo from the home where I used to live.  I have such fond memories but life goes on ...

The reality is that I've not even begun to set up the Christmas tree.  However, my goal for this week is to get it done.  Even though this house is much smaller and I hope I can find the boxes with my ornaments, I am trying to focus more on the reason for the season.  After all, it's all about Jesus.

I found some wonderful resources to prepare my heart for Christmas.  I downloaded the weekly prayer guide from The Church at Brook Hills here.  It contains Bible readings for Christmas along with Scripture memory verses and prayer.

I also purchased a book on my Kindle called "Away in a Manger: An Advent Devotional" by Ian Strachan.  I first read about it on The Faith Barista blog where they were doing a giveaway.  I've found this very helpful as I read each day's reading.

#263 Thoughtful gift for the children from a precious blogging friend
#264 Seeing the smiles of the children as they are given the special treats
#265 An fun evening of laughter, good food and lifelong friendships
#266 Cooler weather in Phoenix (which is perfect for Christmas)
#267 Observing children at play
#268 Getting to pretend taste the children's baked goodies
#269 Seeing children make friends with each other
#270 Getting to spend time with the parents of the children in our class
#271 Enjoying our class Christmas party that was planned and hosted by the parents
#272 Christmas trees all decorated (except mine; not yet)
#273 Christmas music
#274 Christmas devotionals
#275 Reading Matthew and Luke's account of Jesus' birth
#276 Two weeks off work to enjoy Christmas with family

I'm linking up with Ann Voscamp of A Holy Experience as I continue to count my everyday blessings.

This might be a great time to join in.  I encourage you to do so as it definitely changes your perspective.

Blessings and love,


Sometimes Christmas Makes Me Cry

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year.  But there are times when I really miss my loved ones who are no longer here.  I have such wonderful memories spent with family.  

This photo was taken back about 1969 or 1970.  You can tell by the hairstyles and short dresses.  

My grandfather, Nana, and my Mom have gone on to Heaven.
Grandma, Uncle Ivar, Mom
My mother's brother Ivar died last year.

Thankfully, my dad is still alive and kicking despite his pacemaker and implantable defibrillator.  

I heard Mandisa sing this song on the radio and loved it.

I think of loved ones who've passed away
And I pray their resting in a better place
I think of memories of years gone by
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry

I think of soldiers across the sea
Sometimes I wonder its them instead of me
For my freedom they give their lives
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry

Tears of thankfulness tears of hope
I cry tears of joy at Christmas because I know
There is peace on earth for every heart to find
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry

I think of family I think of home
And say a prayer for those who spend this time alone
Cause love can reach out into a silent night
And that's why Christmas makes me cry


I think of Mary and the virgin birth
And I'm amazed by how much God thinks we're worth
That He would send His only Son to die
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry


Most of my tears are tears of joy though.  How thankful I am for wonderful memories.  But most of all, I'm thankful for the gift of Jesus.

Blessings and love,


The Reason for the Season

Christmas is a wonderful time of year.  I love to hear the familiar carols playing on the radio.  The decorations are so festive and the excitement in the air is so contagious.

To continue reading ...go to Laced With Grace.

I totally forgot to post a link to my post from Friday.  I hope you will have the opportunity to check it out.

Merry Christmas!

Blessings and love,

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