Heart Choices: July 2011

Theme Layout

Boxed or Wide or Framed

Theme Translation

Display Featured Slider

Featured Slider Styles

Display Grid Slider

Grid Slider Styles

Display Trending Posts

Display Author Bio

Display Instagram Footer

Dark or Light Style

WFW ~ God Loves Even You

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

Recently, I've been taking time to sit on the back patio before it gets too hot.  It's a precious time of sipping coffee, looking at the birds and bunnies and spending time with my husband.

As I notice how tiny many of these birds are, I'm reminded again of how God is sovereign.  He knows all of the intimate details of my life.  After all, He provides food for even the smallest bird.

Don't forget how much God loves you!

Blessings and love,


IOWT ~ How's Your Prayer Life?

I'm honored to be hosting "In Other Words Tuesday".  As the host, I got to choose the quote for us to write about.

I've been reading Daniel Henderson's Transforming Prayer and this is a quote from that book.

So, I'll ask.  How's your prayer life?

  • Do you tend towards issuing those SOS messages in the midst of challenges?  
  • Do you pray each morning and mentally check it off your to-do list?
  • Do you have an ongoing conversation with the Lord throughout your day?
  • Do you realize at the end of the day that your forgot to pray?
I have to be honest.  There have been times when I could identify with each of these scenarios.

I'm in a relationship with my  husband Greg.  We've been married close to 27 years now.  We have time together each morning.  We've become closer this past year than ever before and it's in the midst of ongoing trials and challenges.  That really blows my mind too!

When I come home from work, Greg and I sit down together and talk.  He is interested in how my day went and I'm interested in his day.  We laugh and consider options when there are problems we encounter.  We do this together.  

If I simply lived with Greg but had no dialogue, it wouldn't be much of a relationship.  We would exist and live together but we'd miss out on the closeness that develops when we listen to each other's hearts.

When I consider that the God of All Creation desires to be in a relationship with little old me ...I am amazed. 

As a Christian, Jesus paid the penalty for my sins.  So I can boldly come into the presence of God.  Jesus intercedes for me as my High Priest.  

How amazing and overwhelming is that?

So, do I simply pray and ask for all the requests on my list?  Or do I pour out my heart and take the time to praise Him?  Do I actually listen and then obey Him?

The more time I spend in His Word, the more I grow to love Him.  Because of that love, my heart is changed.  I long for His desires to become my desires.  I let go of my plans and submit to His plans.  After all, He knows my heart better than I ever could know it.  

How about you?  How's your prayer life?  Are your daily activities crowding out time to pray?  Is your ministry getting in the way of spending time with the Lord?  

I encourage you to give us your take on this quote.  Simply write a post on your blog and then come back and link up.  Or simply add a comment below.  I look forward to reading each one of yours.

Blessings and love,


An Attitude of Gratitude

Another Monday when I get to count my everyday blessings.  There's something about an attitude of gratitude that changes my perspective.  I'm seeing things differently each day.

I've been working in summer camp at our school.  This past week, I've been working the lunch time with the kids.  It gives me the opportunity to help them open their lunches and listen to what they have to say.  It's amazing when you take the time to listen to a child ...they actually open up to you. :)

They also love to act silly, especially when they see Miss Debbie with her camera.

This little girl couldn't help but twirl around to show me how she does this.  Too cute!

#115  Laughing with the children as they try to amuse me and themselves

One of the summer camps is Singing Idols.  On Friday I had the pleasure of watching their encore performance.
This performance was more of a practice so they were still learning the words to their songs.  But next Friday will be the BIG PERFORMANCE.  And I intend to be there with my camera.

Of course, they had a few dance moves to go along with the songs they sang.

#116  Watching the joy of children performing

#117  The parents who told me how thrilled they were to see their former shy child standing in the front and singing

#118  Little Abby fitting right in with the older kids and enjoying herself.  (She was in my Culinary Camp earlier in the summer.)

#119  Watching Karli spontaneously moving in rhythm to the music.  (Her mom told me that she insisted they get to school early so she could practice.)

And then there were the shoes!  Miss Debbie loves to take pictures of the childrens' shoes and ...they know it!
Four year old Briana had to show me her boo-boo with the Cinderella band aid.  Don't you just love those shoes?
And check out these sneakers?  Aren't they the cutest?
And Anoushka had to show me her arm with a brace after an injury.

#120  A big thank you for all who prayed for my mother-in-love Gloria

Gloria continues to recuperate at a local Rehab facility.  She had surgery after breaking her hip five weeks ago.  Today when we visited her, she is able to get out of bed by herself and walk with a walker.  She's not thrilled with all the exercises that are required but she is getting stronger as a result.  And her desire is to return to her own home in a few weeks.

I'm smiling as I'm writing this post so that's a good thing.  It's great to count your blessings so I will continue to do this each Monday as I link up with Ann of A Holy Experience.

Blessings and love,


Hosting "In Other Words" This Tuesday

I will be hosting "In Other Words Tuesdays" this week.  

The quote I chose for us to write about is this:

I encourage you to join in this Tuesday, July 26.  

Simply write a post on your blog and then come back on Tuesday and link up.  
To learn more about how "In Other Words Tuesdays" works and how it got started, click here.

I hope to see you back here on Tuesday!

Blessings and love,

Thankful Thursday

It's been way too long since I participated in Thankful Thursday.  I'm linking up with Lynn of Spiritually Unequal Marriage.

I am feeling very thankful this morning.  My circumstances haven't really changed considerably but I realized that I'm learning to live by faith more and more each day.

Here are a few things I'm thankful for:

  • I found my iPod in a box that was packed away!  Greg charged it for me yesterday and I got to listen to a variety of songs while I exercised on the treadmill this morning.
  • I got to listen to Carrie Underwood singing "Jesus Take the Wheel" and Randy Travis singing "I'll Fly Away" along with Tony Bennett and The Carpenters.  I think I need to categorize my songs, ya think?
  • I love working from 9:30 am until 6 pm, especially when I complained at first.  I miss the rush hour traffic and have time to have my quiet time, exercise and spend time having coffee with my husband.
  • Realizing that my love for my husband has grown in the midst of some very trying circumstances
  • Greg holding my hand while we are watching reruns of "Cagney and Lacey" which is one of my favorite TV series from the early 1980's.
  • I get to spend time with so many children all day long
  • Heidi, my partner in crime (only kidding) is coming to set up our classroom for the school year.  So I will get to see her finally after a long summer.  She is the teacher for our class of PreK 3's.
  • Although I miss my car pool buddy Tara, I'm using the time on the drive to  listen to some old cassettes I found of Anne Graham Lotz and Beth Moore.  I'm glad my car has the a tape player too.  I found the cassettes in a box too.  Such treasures I'm finding!
  • I am thankful for this journey that has included so many changes.  I can't believe I'm actually writing that because I've always dreaded change!
  • Since my brother and his wife are on vacation, my dad is staying at their home this week.  He gets to spend time with their dog and swim in their pool.  But how thankful I was that my niece Kristin has reached out to  my dad and even made dinner for him.  Thank you Kristin and Kevin!
  • God is good and God is faithful!
My Dad standing next to Kristin.  My brother Steve is to her right and her husband Kevin is on the far right.

A rainbow I captured on my way home from work

Blessings and love,


Arizona Monsoons

It's monsoon season in Arizona.  That's the time of year when we experience sudden storms with blowing dust and rain.  I was driving home from work on Monday evening and this is what I was driving into.

It was a bit scary.  My husband Greg called me to warn me but I was already on the 101 heading home.  

I posted these photos on Facebook but I thought I'd post them here for those who aren't into that.

I  know I shouldn't have been taking photos while driving on the highway but at least I wasn't texting.  And I have to add that I was careful and just used one hand to snap these.

And thank the Lord, I got home safely too!


I'm Over at Laced with Grace

Are you in the midst of a period of trials and challenges?  How is this time impacting your faith?

It's easy to have faith when life is good.  But what happens when those times of testing are present?

I encourage you to link over to Laced with Grace to read more ...

Laced With Grace

Blessings and love,

Blessings Keep on Coming

Since I've begun to look at life from a different perspective, I can't help but notice the simple blessings each and every day.  So, I keep on counting and thanking God for His goodness and His love.

On Sunday morning, our small church was delighted to have Pastor George's grandchildren sing with our music minister.  His wife Linda (who happens to be a teacher at Rancho Solano) had all three of them spending the week with her.  She had 'Camp Mimi' and the girls had such fun.  But how wonderful to see that they learned some songs and were willing to sing in front of the church family on Sunday morning.

Photo Credit: Linda Stroh
#115 Listening to the sweet voices of Bella, Trinity and Maddie sing "Yes, Jesus Loves Me" and "I Love You Lord" in front of the church on Sunday morning.

Greg and I have been getting up early in the morning and having our first cup of coffee outside on the patio.  At 5 am, it's very quiet except for the quail, rabbits and doves.
#116 The quiet of the morning
#117 Spending time with my husband
#118 Watching the mommy and daddy quail along with the little baby quail as they seek food
#119 Observing the large jackrabbits and how quickly they move
#120 Noticing how God provides for the little birds

How thankful I am that God is with me every step of the way.  I continue to learn and grow as I'm studying Hebrews each morning.  I'm amazed at how Scripture that I've read so many times seems new as it is sinking into my heart and not just staying in my head.

#121 The Holy Spirit teaches me through His Word

I'm linking up with Ann of A Holy Experience for Multitudes on Monday as we count our blessings.

Blessings and love,


Midnight in Paris

I'd seen the trailer for the movie "Midnight in Paris".  It appealed to me, especially since I'm such a romantic.  And I've so many wonderful memories since Greg and I have visited Paris.

Take a look ...

So yesterday I decided to go to the movies by myself.  Harkins Theaters, here I come ...

I found myself seated next to a retired teacher who also came alone.  :)

The movie is about a writer who is in Paris with his fiance and her parents.  Gil (the writer) is played by Owen Wilson.  He is clearly different from his fiance in his desires and personality.  He is a romantic at heart and loves to walk the streets of Paris.  In the process, he is transported back to Paris in the 1920's where he meets many of his literary heroes like Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso.

I remember walking the streets of Paris with Greg.  It was such fun to sip a cup of coffee in a cafe along the Champs-Elysees, purchasing a baguette and placing it under my arm, taking the train to Giverney to see Monet's home and gardens.

I have a question for you:

What would you do if you could go back in time and live in a world that you thought was better than your own?

I am a romantic.  I have a tendency to daydream.  At times, I long for a time when life wasn't so complicated; a time when people sat and had coffee and ...were not in a rush.

Technology has changed things; some good and some not so good.  I feel sad when I see some parents pick up their child who has spent most of the day at school with a cell phone in their ear.  Or they may be so busy texting that they miss the cries of their child longing to be hugged.  Btw, not all the parents are like this (just a few).

It seems that everyone is too busy today.  With long to-do lists, are we missing out on the NOW?

Of course, there are things that are necessary but over commitment is something I see all too often.  

This morning Greg and I sat outside at 5 am and watched the bunnies and quail interacting in the backyard as we sipped our morning coffee.  Being quiet and being in the NOW; how quaint.

So are you longing for a time when life was more simple?

Or will you consider taking a look at how you spend your time in this life NOW?  

It's something to think about ...

Blessings and love,


Faith to Enter In

Photo Credit: beautiful-places.com

When I think of entering in to rest, an environment like the one pictured above comes to my mind.  Tiburon, California; a place where my husband Greg and I got engaged many years ago.

My body and flesh long for a season of rest.  A time to sit and reflect.  And it would be preferable if this time included something with a view of the water.

Another Rest

There is a promise for believers to enter in to the rest of God.   It is a present REST.

Hebrews 4: 1-3 says:
"Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.  For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.  Now we who have believed enter that rest ..."

Who were the people who had fallen short because they didn't combine it with faith?  It was the Israelites who had the faith to believe and leave Egypt with Moses.  But they didn't have the faith to enter the Promised Land because of unbelief.  Fear got the best of them, except for Joshua and Caleb.  So they stayed in the Wilderness for forty years.

God is calling us to enter His rest NOW.  Yes, I know that one day when I die I will be in heaven.  But what about today?  I had the faith to believe the Gospel message of salvation.  Jesus died for my sins and paid the penalty so I can be in a right relationship with God.

But in the meantime, life is hard.  As I continue to study Hebrews, I long to truly enter His rest NOW.

  • Instead of working in my own strength, I chose to trust Jesus to work in me and through me.  
  • Instead of looking at all the giants in my life, I focus on Jesus who works all things together for my good.
  • Instead of being fearful, I believe the promises of God.
Sometimes believing can be hard.  If you've had disappointments in life or people have let you down, it can be easy to be distrustful.

But God is different.

He is trustworthy.

He is faithful.

He is sufficient.

I do not want to harden my heart.  I want to have faith to believe and to trust God.  I want to enter in to the rest of God.  I want to submit my will to His Will.  As His Word speaks to my heart, I choose to believe.

I'm jamming with Bonnie of Faith Barista on the topic of FAITH.


Blessings and love,


WFW ~ Weary?

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

Do you ever feel weary?  Is your schedule so overloaded and you feel you have no time?

This photo was taken by my godchild Michael's wife Christine.  These are their two precious daughters who fell asleep in the car after a busy day.

Yes, a nap can be helpful at times.

But why not give your heavy burdens to the Lord?  

He is so much more able to help us as we face challenges in life.

Blessings and love,


Happy Birthday Steve

My brother Steve is celebrating his 60th birthday today.  Where has the time gone?

I can still remember celebrating his 9th birthday!  This black and white photo was taken in our backyard when we lived in Kings Park, NY.

Steve is the birthday boy, the baby is my sister Christine and I am pictured sitting beneath where my mom is standing.  The birthday guests are the Braatens who are all grown up now.

Steve and I were very close growing up.  We are 18 months apart.  And yes, he is older than me!

We had our moments but most of the time we got along well.

This photo was taken in front of our house in Lindenhurst, NY.  This is where we lived during most of our grade school and high school years and consider it our home town.

We've both grown up since that time and we live in different states now; he is Florida and me in Arizona.  But between phone calls, visits and Facebook ...we manage to keep tabs on each other pretty well.

Steve celebrated last night with his wife Barbara and friends and family.  I wish I could have been there but I know they had a fun time.  That's what happens when the Sumstad's get together.

Steve's pride and joy are his daughters, Kristin and Katie.  Here he is walking Kristin down the aisle at her wedding to Kevin last September.

Me and my brother
So, I'm wishing Steve a wonderful birthday and many blessings in this coming year.

Blessings and love,

[name=DEBBIE PETRAS] [img=http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2CDrwq9-7eo/WV6tdbP-QgI/AAAAAAACfb0/ViqQSnSVaDsMLXyz3AEEzZ5-78luBHOGgCK4BGAYYCw/s1600/Debbie%2BFace%2Bblog.JPG] [description=]