Heart Choices: June 2011

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Extreme Heart Makeover

I enjoy watching makeovers.  It could be a home transformation when the designers come in and paint, recover furniture and add those special touches.  Or I've seen face makeovers where a makeup artist will apply cosmetics and the person looks so different.

But something that's been hitting me lately is that I don't need to do a makeover on me.  Jesus has already done the work.  I didn't need to clean up my mess first.  He did it for me.

I received this cartoon from Joyful  'toons today.  I think it's such a great illustration for extreme heart makeover.

Yesterday I received Pastor George Stroh's commentary which seemed to go right along with this message.  He writes about how we are made brand new in Christ.

Many believers tend to forget who they are in Christ.

We've had an extreme heart makeover.  

Now we need to live out what we believe.  How do I do this?

I walk by faith and obey His Word.  When I surrender and pray about the challenges I'm dealing with in my life, I invite God to work in my life.  I may not see immediate results but I trust Him.

I want to walk by faith and trust.  So, I've been reading Hebrews again.  

I thought I would end this post with the video of Jason Gray singing "I Am New".  Listen to the words carefully.

Blessings and love,

Please Pray

Please pray for my mother-in-love.  We just got word that she fell in her home and broke her hip.  She's in the hospital and will have surgery in the morning.

Gloria is a very independent woman and this will be hard for her.  Here's a photo of her that I took about a week ago as Greg and I were leaving her home after a visit.

Please pray that the surgery would go smoothly with no complications.  I'm praying for the surgeon and nurses involved in her care.  I thank you in advance for your prayers.

Blessings and love,


Summer Camp Fun

I wanted to share a few of my special memories from Rancho Solano's summer camp.

The water slide was a scheduled Friday event.  And in the midst of triple digit heat, it was so refreshing for the  students.

And then there was the process of drying off before their next session.

On our last day of Culinary Camp, the girls shared some more love with Miss Debbie.  :)

Despite the spelling, I got the message and ...loved it!

I also got to spend several hours each day with my little 3-4 year old students.
Deetya loves to do crafts!

Summer camp can be so exhausting for Ava!

This week I've been off spending time with Greg and getting ready for next week.  It will be another two week summer camp session.  I'm rested up and ...ready!

Blessings and love,

WFW ~ Encouragement

It's Word-filled Wednesday and I'm linking up with the Internet Cafe.

Encouragement has become so important to me lately.  I know many who are in need of some encouragement, including me.

Blessings and love,


More Culinary Camp Blessings

Counting one thousand gifts has become such a blessing for me.  I am taking the time to notice the simple everyday things in life.  How often have I missed those special blessings because I was too busy to notice?

So, I continue my counting...

I taught the girls in Culinary Camp all about table manners.  They learned the proper way to set the dinner table.  I found a wonderful way to help them remember the proper placing of the utensils from All Free Crafts. The author shared a story and described  "the fork was the imprisoned princess, separated from her prince (the spoon) by an alligator-infested swamp (the plate) and a mean soldier (the knife)."

Although the girls created their own place mats, I was amazed at how easily they remembered how to do this after learning the story.  Here are a few of their creations:
#98  Observing the creative way the girls drew their place mats

We had a meal in the teacher's lounge since there was a larger table and a working oven.  So we sat around the table and  practiced good table manners.  The school is comprised of people of many faiths.  However, as we sat down one of the little girls announced that we had to say grace.  She held her hands out so others could join in.  Oh, how I wished we could openly do so but ...

#99  My heart leaped with joy to see this little one saying grace

We had a special day when I invited the students to bring a sample of one of their family's favorite recipes.  They had an opportunity to tell the class a bit about the food they selected to bring and we each got a small taste.

Alexandra's parents are from China.  She eagerly shared that her mom's recipe for egg rolls was so much better than what we get at restaurants.  Although the recipe is a family secret, it was filled with delicious pork and tasted oh so good.
#100  Seeing family traditions continue to the next generation

Alyssa shared a coffee cake that is a specialty of her father's.  As we neared the end of the last week of Culinary Camp, she told me that she hoped her dad would now allow her to help out in the kitchen more.

Ryann was so excited to bring in her red apron to wear while cooking.

I was happy to teach the students how to make Norwegian waffles.  They tasted them and seemed to like them.  However, they weren't used to eating waffles without syrup.  Norwegians eat their waffles as a snack and not breakfast.  We often add butter and jam.

#101  Sharing family traditions and food with one another

#102  Hearing the excitement in the girls' voices as they hoped to share all they were learning with their families

On our last day of Culinary Camp, we made cupcakes for the 4th of July.  We made red, white and blue ones using food coloring in three separate bowls.  The students each got to help out and after the cupcakes were cool, they had such fun decorating them.

It did get a bit messy but they were having such fun!  Everyone got to eat one and then they gave a few to several of the teachers and brought the rest home to their families.

#103  Listening to the laughter as the girls were so excited baking and decorating cupcakes

What a fun experience Culinary Camp was for me!  Greg helped me put together recipe books for each girl to take home.  We had a page for each recipe along with a photo so they could share them with their families.  Greg spent hours printing and editing for me in the early hours of the morning before I left for work.

#104  A husband who helps me and loves to hear all of my stories about the children

Are you counting your everyday blessings?  I encourage you to begin.  It will change  your perspective on life.

Blessings and love,

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day!

I'm so fortunate to have a great dad.  I realize how rare that can be.

My dad always made me feel special growing up.  As a teenager, I had a curfew and if I wasn't home on time Dad would come and look for me.  I always had a dime in my shoe every time I went on a date.  My dad made sure of that.  I know I'm dating myself with that one; lol.  No cell phones back then!

My dad is very proud of his Norwegian heritage.  My maiden name is Sumstad.  There is a town in Norway named Sumstad where my paternal grandparents raised their family.  The farm is still owned by the family and I've had the privilege of actually visiting it.  I hope to one day bring my other man (my hubby) there to visit.

Here are the two men in my life; my dad and Greg.  I love them both!

Happy Father's Day!
Blessings and love,

Glorious Day

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

I've been hearing the song "Glorious Day" by Casting Crowns lately on the radio and love it.  As I listen to the lyrics, I look forward to that glorious day.  No matter what challenges I may face today, I know I am  loved.  I am at peace with God because of Jesus.  I am forgiven.  I am free.

Happy Saturday!

Blessings and love,


Is Your Burden Heavy?

Today I'm over at Laced with Grace talking about heavy burdens.  I encourage you to link over to read all about it.

Laced With Grace

Blessings and love,


Culinary Camp Blessings

I'm continuing to count my 1,000 blessings and I hope to keep on going ...

I'm teaching a two week summer session of Culinary Camp at Rancho Solano Private School.  It's been lots of fun but takes much planning.  I have a group of first through fourth grade girls and they are eager to learn.   After the second day of Culinary Camp, the girls wrote some things on the board when I was occupied elsewhere.

#89  A broad smile after reading the girls' words and pictures they drew.  We had prepared watermelon pie using ice cream and sherbet.  The pie tasted great but didn't look as good as the recipe photo.  I think it needed to stay frozen a bit longer. :)

Each student created three emotion masks.  After tasting a recipe, they would place one of the emotion masks on their face.  The choices were ...loved it, so-so, and disliked it.

#90  The students used their loved it mask 99.9% of the time so far.

Since I have a long history of working as a cardiovascular nurse, I wanted to include some healthy recipes too.
Our class used a variety of fresh fruit and then made several dips.  The coconut dip was quite a hit!

#91  Teaching children to enjoy and prepare healthy foods too

#92  Seeing a sense of accomplishment on the faces of the girls as they prepare their recipes

#93 Eager hands ready to taste good and healthy food

#94 Watching the creativity at work as the girls decorated their chef hats

#95  Alyssa reported back that she remembered the strawberry smoothie recipe and made it for her dad

I've been trying to also teach manners in the Culinary Camp.  Upon observing some of their table manners, I realized they needed some help.  So I created a chart with stickers.  When I observe them using good manners, they receive a sticker.  One of the girls seemed so sad and sullen during our morning.  When it came to giving stickers, she hadn't been using good manners all morning.  Later that day, as I moved to my after school group of PreK 3 and 4 year olds, I suddenly heard voices calling Miss Debbie.

They reported that they had observed this one girl using good manners and ...she was all smiles!

Of course, she got her sticker too.

#96  Being able to see the girls practice what they are learning

The week has been hectic and tiring.  My hours are a bit later than usual and I often stop at the grocery to pick up ingredients for the next day's recipe.  I phoned my hubby Greg telling him how tired I was.  When I got home, this is what greeted me.

#97 The joy of having a husband who is also a kid at heart.  I love that about him.  He knows how to bring a smile to my face!

Are you looking for those everyday blessings in your life?  I know that since I've been on the lookout it's been changing my perspective.  I encourage you to do so too.

Blessings and love,


The Power of Your Name

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

This week the song that touched my heart the most is "The Power of Your Name" sung by Lincoln Brewster. The words to this song have such strong meaning for me.  I want to go beyond "religion" and to live out my life through the power of His Name.

Happy Saturday!

Blessings and love,


The Power of Encouragement

Encouragement can be very powerful.  Encouragement is something we all could use sometime.  Some people crave it.  Some people think they can easily do without it.

"We have different gifts according to the grace given us...if it is encouraging, let him encourage..."Romans 12:6-8 (NIV)

I think I have the gift of encouragement.  There have been times in the past when I wished I had a more visible gift.  I would see others who could sing solos and bring people to tears.  But the only people that don't seem to mind my off key singing are the preschoolers I work with. Singing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" with hand motions doesn't qualify as an inspiring solo.  :)

I realize that we all need a little encouragement along the way.  I love to be able to give that encouragement.  But sometimes the encourager needs a little encouragement ...especially when life has been challenging.

An unexpected word of encouragement
Out of the blue, I received a beautiful photo card from blogger Cindy of Letters From Midlife.  Cindy has the gift of encouragement.  She quietly notices when someone needs encouragement and ...she follows through and does something to encourage.

Janette of Janette's Sage is an encourager.  While navigating a time of uncertainty in her family's life, she is always there to lend a word of encouragement to others.  She always tries to make lemonade out of lemons and she wrote about it here.  But Janette has reached out to me personally in so many ways this past year and encouraged me.

Felisol of On the Far Side of the Sea is an encourager.  She is my Norwegian 'sister'.  I love to keep up with my Norwegian heritage by reading many of her posts like this one.  She always seems to sense when I need an extra dose of encouragement and she does so ... through her comments on Heart Choices.

There are so many other bloggers who have been such an encouragement to me.  There are too many to name but here are just a few.  I hope you take the time to visit them.  Those who encourage also need encouragement.

  • Sonja of bits and pieces ....  I know that the Lord brought this godly woman into my life.  She is also of Norwegian descent and has become a true mentor and sister to me.
  • Kathleen of Sassy Granny ...I met her in person when she lived in Arizona.  She's since moved to the Seattle area but I was privileged to spend quality time with her several times.  What a joy and an encourager she is.
Sassy Granny AKA Kathleen
  • Bethany of Raindrops & Rainbows ...what an encourager!  She is such an example to me and yet she's probably half my age.  When my sister Christine was going through some challenges, she wrote and asked if she might send her a card of encouragement.  My sister received many cards from Bethany and it was just what Chris needed.  That warmed my heart and ...encouraged me too.
Bethany & her hubby on their 10th anniversary
I cannot forget to mention Lisa of Sharing Life with Lisa.  I was thrilled to meet her in person last year when I visited family in Florida.  Lisa drove hours just to sit and talk with me and ...encourage me.  Best of all, she is a prayer warrior and ...follows through on that.

There are so many friends who have encouraged me including Helen, Terri, Sue, Linda, Anna May, Jill, Tara, Heidi.  Each one of these women reach out a hand of love through a card, a hug or simply listening to me  And for that ...I thank you.

I'm linking up to Bonnie of The Faith Barista as she jams about the gift of encouragement.  Btw, she has also been an encouragement to me.


Blessings and love,

TSMSS ~ Above All

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

I love children. I work with children.  So how could I resist not posting this video of little Kaitlyn Maher singing "Above All".

Happy Saturday!

Blessings and love,
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