Heart Choices: January 2012

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True Peace

If you asked most people what they would love to have, many would say ...peace.

As I gaze at this photo, I could just imagine my husband and me sitting in those lounge chairs having a very peaceful and relaxing time.

Tami of The Next Step chose a quote about peace for this week's "In Other Words Tuesday":
“True peace comes from embracing what is, not from ceaseless striving to change everything around me to make my life more safe, secure, comfortable.”  Dan Meadows in the Mosaic Bible

As I read that quote, I thought about how the world seems to describe peace:
  • An end to all wars
  • No crime
  • Freedom from oppression
Realistically, this is most unlikely to occur in the world in which we live.

Security, harmony and calm might be another description of peace. Taking a vacation to a place like the one in the photo above might be enjoyable for a time.  But it eventually ends and we go back to our life once again.

I've found that the only way to have real peace is ...in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  

Only He can provide us with peace with God (spiritual peace) when we accept Him as our Savior.

Once I received this GIFT, I have His abiding peace to get me through many challenging days.

Instead of ceaseless striving to change and control everything around me, I can REST in Him.

How do I do this?
  • I Pray about everything.
  • I'm learning to trust God and His ways.
  • I'm abiding in Him each and every day.
No matter what storms are going on around me, I can remain calm because I place my trust in God.  He is sovereign over all.  Nothing happens to me that isn't filtered through His hands of love.  I learn lessons through the hard times and cling to Him more closely.

I embrace what is and that is ...Jesus!

Blessings and love,

The Joy of Learning

There is a joy in learning.  I've always had a love for reading.  As a child, I vividly remember my mom reading to me.  I would sit with her for hours. I think these memories are so strong for me since I was sedentary the first seven years of my life due to a congenital heart defect.

But now I get to participate with three and four year old children as they are beginning to learn to read.  Each week, they have new sight words such as "the", "as", "see", etc.

The children get very excited as they learn new words and get to read to one another.  At the end of the week, they get to take their little books home and we ask them who they will read them to.  The replies include ...my dog, my mom, my baby sister.

When the children sit in a group, they are expected to sit "criss cross applesauce".  We often have to remind them of this.  Anika forgot and seems to be getting very relaxed here.  :)

During PE class, the children participated in a Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser.  It was kind of hard for our little ones to actually jump rope.  But we were so glad to get a little help from the fourth graders.  They teamed up with the children to show them how to jump rope.

It seems that every PE class has its pitfalls.  Inevitably, there's a boo boo involved.

But it's amazing how a Dora the Explorer band-aid helps make it all feel better.

I'm looking forward to this new week.  We are going to have a Snow Day.  In Scottsdale, this is challenging given our recent 70 degree temperatures.  But there's nothing like manufactured snow to play in! At the end of the week, we have Pajama Day.  I had to check my closet to find some PJ's that would be appropriate as the teachers get to wear them to school too. :)

Have I mentioned how much I love working at Rancho Solano?

#332  Eyes light up as the children learn more new words
#333  Observing the children read to one another
#334  Realizing how often the children imitate what Heidi and I say each day
#335  The excitement as the children applaud when good manners are being used
#336  Learning new motor skills such as jumping rope
#337  Watching the children learn early that exercise is important for heart health
#338  The smile on Olivia's face after a band-aid is applied
#339  Greg's mom is home from the hospital and doing much better
#340  Coming home to a meal prepared by my  husband Greg almost every day 
#341  So thankful that Greg is a great cook and very creative (no recipe)
#342  Amazing weather with temperatures in the mid to high 70's
#343  A wonderful verse by verse study of the Book of Revelation at church by Pastor George Stroh (yes Linda's husband)
#344  A wonderful working relationship with Heidi; we work so well as a team
#345  My dad called from Florida so excited when a friend from Sons of Norway came up to him and mentioned that she was Facebook friends with his daughter (me)
#346  Arranging a family reunion of some of the Sumstad's who are traveling through Arizona in February at the Farm at South Mountain

Photo Credit: The Farm at South Mountain

I'm linking up with Ann Voscamp of A Holy Experience as I continue to count my every day blessings.  Isn't it time you joined in?

Blessings and love,


One Word for 2012 ~ Adventure

I'm joining in this week's Faith Barista Jam.  Bonnie asked us to write about ...ADVENTURE.

I had to laugh when my friend Jamie sent me this photo of her two little girls and a dog.  I wonder who is really in the driver's seat?

It happens to be that adventure was my one word for 2012.  I tend to be a dreamer and a planner.  But lately my life has been anything but stable and planned.  As I see it, I have two choices.

  1. Try to control my world and drive myself nuts with stress.
  2. Trust God and allow Him to guide me each step of the way on this adventure.
Frankly, I'm ready for #2.  For too long, I tried to maintain control.  

If I knew all that would happen in my life in advance, I think I would have run away.  

So today I make the choice to:
  • Begin my day in prayer and reading my Bible
  • Yield every part of my life to the Lord
  • Walk by faith and not by sight
  • Not worry about where I will live 
  • Take life one day at a time 
  • Be more aware of those every day blessings
  • Enjoy the moment
  • Smile
  • Know that God is ultimately in control of all things
  • Anticipate answers to prayer
  • Be excited about the possibilities God has for me
  • Love others
  • Laugh more
After all, it's a matter of perspective.  My life will be an adventure as I trust God with the details.

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

Blessings and love,


Did You Celebrate Winnie the Pooh's Birthday?

Counting my every day blessings is so good for me.  I had a difficult weekend with a close relative in the hospital.  It's hard to see someone you love and care for go through valleys.

I was happy to be able to sit down and write out my blessings.  As I focused on the good things the Lord has blessed me with this week, it helps make it easier to deal with the more difficult aspects of life.

We celebrated Winnie the Pooh's birthday last week at school.  What fun!

Everyone dressed up in yellow and red and many of the children had their Pooh bears in their backpacks.  I'm so used to seeing them in uniforms every day so it was such fun to see them.

I only wish I could show you their adorable faces!

I think you can use your imagination as you see these adorable yellow and red outfits; too cute!
I had to laugh!  Little Maya has a hard time sitting still.  She kept fiddling with her uniform and she ended up getting her hands stuck.  She looked up at me with an innocent look and said "help me Miss Debbie".  :)

Kathleen of Sassy Granny was in town this week.  She moved from Arizona to the Seattle area recently but came back to visit her friends and sisters.  We had hoped to get together but since I spent most of the weekend at the hospital it wasn't possible.  But I was thrilled to hear her sweet voice as we managed to have a phone conversation.  She is always such an encouragement to me and I just love her.

#324 Getting to see the world through the eyes of children
#325 Celebrating Winnie the Pooh's birthday
#326 Having fun with the children
#327 Helping little Maya get unstuck
#328 Hearing the voice of a precious friend and fellow blogger
#329 Family who loves one another 
#330 Thankful for my nursing background that helped much during the hospital situation
#331 Grateful that my dad is doing well in Florida

No matter what is going on in your life, remember that there are always every day blessings.  We just need to stop and notice them and then thank God for them.

I'm linking up with Ann of A Holy Experience for Multitudes on Mondays.

Blessings and love,


My Hope is in You

"My Hope is in You" is a song that has touched my heart this week.

Aaron Shust sings it and when I heard of his story it became even more special.  He and his wife have a young son with a serious medical condition.  On KLOVE radio I listened to some of his story.  Recently they had a second child and just learned that he also has special needs.  Aaron and his wife are clinging to Psalm 62:5.

Psalm 62:5

Contemporary English Version (CEV)
5"Only God gives inward peace,
   and I depend on him."

Psalm 62:5

New International Version (NIV)

 5 "Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
   my hope comes from him."

Whatever challenge you are facing,  I encourage you to place your hope in God.

I'm linking up with Amy for Then Sings My Soul Saturday.

Blessings and love,


I Have Joy

Little Debbie
I have joy!

Joy is different from happiness.  It's easy to be happy when life is good and things are going my way.

But joy isn't dependent upon life circumstances.

Bonnie of Faith Barista asked us to share about the word "JOY" for this week's Faith Barista Jam.

As a little girl, I remember singing a song that went like this:

I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart.
I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.
Down in my  heart to stay.

That joy is there to stay because I have Jesus in my heart.  His Spirit lives within me.  Now that's something to be joyful about, don't you think?

During this season of my life, there is much uncertainty.  I don't even know where I'll be living in the next six months.

It would be so easy to fret about this.  I have to admit there are moments when I'm tempted to become anxious but then I remember that God is trustworthy.  As I look back over the past few years, I've found Him to be so faithful and He is always with me.

I can wake up each morning knowing that His presence is with me.  I am never alone.

As a kid, I loved to read.  I would check out Nancy Drew mysteries from the Lindenhurst public library and go home each Saturday to begin my reading.  I had the tendency to take a peak at the last page to see how it ended.  I know that's not what you're supposed to do but that's what I often did.

Well, I already know the end of my story.  

The NOW may not be fully revealed to me and so I must trust God along the way.  But my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life and I am so grateful.  I don't say this as a boast.  I am humbled by this.  So, no matter what happens along the way I can rest easy knowing that God loves me and has a plan and purpose for my life.

That's a reason to have JOY!

Galatians 5: 22-23 lists the fruit of the Spirit.  And the second one listed is ...JOY!

That's something I cannot manufacture myself.  No amount of affirmations I recite can generate this one.  No positive thinking can instill this one.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit!

That is a gift of God as I dwell in His presence allowing Him full access to me.  Who wouldn't want to have that kind of joy?

Blessings and love,


A Renewed Mind

Our quote this week for "In Other Words Tuesdays" was chosen by Living for God.

"Without the renewed mind, we will distort the Scriptures to avoid their radical commands for self-denial, and love, and purity, and supreme satisfaction in Christ alone." ~ John Piper

This is a quote I totally agree with.

  • Many people have studied the Scriptures.
  • Many people have much head knowledge of the Scriptures but not heart knowledge.  
  • Many people can quote certain verses.  
  • Many people can take a verse of Scripture out of context to suit their own agenda.  
  • Even Satan knows Scripture and distorted it to try to tempt Jesus.  (good luck with that)
Romans 12:2 says: "Do not conform any  longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- His good, pleasing and perfect will."

As I surrender more and more of my life to Christ, He changes me from the inside out.  I don't need to try to be good.  I don't need to try to do more good.  

As I study the Scriptures in context, my mind is being transformed by the Holy Spirit.  His desires become my desires.  It's like hand in glove. He works in me and through me to impact others.  My outward behavior changes slowly as I grow in Him.  

Do I have it all together?

No way!  After all, I still have my human flesh to contend with.  

But praise God.  

As I learn to give it ALL to Him, I am learning to live this Christian life in the power of His Spirit.  That's called maturity.

What are your thoughts on this quote by John Piper?  I'd love to hear what you have to say.  Or you can link up with Living for God and share your post with us.

Blessings and love,


Distracted While Praying

Laced With Grace
Do you get distracted when you pray?

I have to admit that at times ...I do.

I begin by praising God for who He is.  I thank Him for what He has done.  I acknowledge my trust in Him.  But as I begin to get into my time of intercession, suddenly my mind wanders to my to-do list or something flashes through my mind that I forgot to do.  Before I realize it, more time has gone by and I have to get ready for work.  To continue reading, please link over to Laced with Grace.

Blessings and love,


Everyday Blessings Through a Child's Eyes

Counting my every day blessings makes me smile!  As I think back over my week, it's fun to recall simple blessings.

It can much too easy to get in the habit of remembering what went wrong.  Instead, why not make the choice to focus on the blessings of the week?  And then always remember to ...give thanks.

There's something beautiful about looking at the world through the lens of a child.  This week, Heidi taught the three year old children about the concept of melting.  We began with frozen popsicles and gave one to each child.  We took them outside in the sunshine.  The popsicles began to melt and the children were able to paint a picture with their popsicle.  They loved it and were so proud when we hung their art work outside our classroom door for all to see.  Every time they passed by their masterpiece, they would point to it and smile.

Here they are sitting in the sun as their popsicles melted and they quietly painted.

Take a look at those socks with the X's and O's.  Aren't they the cutest?  I get a kick out of the different shoes and socks.  Since the children wear uniforms, these items allow for some creativity and uniqueness.  Notice the flower in Anika's hair.

The children know how to write their first name but recently we've been working with them on writing both first and last name.  Max is working very diligently as he learns the letters in his last name.

Our letter of the week was "M".  Maya is searching for a hidden "m" in our poem.  Again, check out the flower in her hair and the cute socks and shoes; love them.

I had to include this family photo of Jake getting a haircut.  Jake's mom is married to my cousin Rod.  Jake looks so much like the Sumstad side of the family.  He's too funny with his unique expressions!

Sometimes it's good to look at life from the eyes of a child.  They do have a unique perspective.  And I tend to smile more and more ...

#316 The simplicity of a popsicle changing shape
#317 Watching the children delight in painting with their popsicle
#318 Holding Anika's hair bows as I help take her sweater off over her head and then she always asks me to help put her bows back in her hair
#319 Observing the children learn the letter "M" and recognize it in words and sounds
#320 Seeing a child learn to write their complete name
#321 The smile of a child when they get a sticker for good manners
#322 The cutest expression on the face of my cousin's son during a haircut
#323 Noticing the family resemblance in Jake

I love looking at the world through the eyes of children.  What a blessing it is!

Are you counting your everyday blessings?  I'm linking up with Ann of A Holy Experience.

Blessings and love,


Thoughts on Delight

 Bonnie of Faith Barista asked us to share our thoughts on the word "delight".

Two things come to my mind when I think of the word delight:
  • Psalm 37 
  • Children  

Psalm 37 has been a source of comfort to me over the years. Trust, delight, commit, be still, do not fear are interwoven throughout this particular Psalm.  During times of turmoil and difficulty, I intentionally chose to trust His Word.  And I found that God is indeed trustworthy.

Children are a gift from God.  However, due to fertility issues I was unable to have children.  This was a bitter disappointment to me as I always envisioned my life as a mom.  But God had a plan for my life and how thankful I am that it eventually involved children.

In the midst of very trying circumstances, the Lord brought me to a job where I get to spend eight hours a day with little ones.
AZ Republic Photo of me and children from Bible study
I delight ...in seeing the children's sweet faces.
I delight ...in listening to the children as they share stories with me.
I delight ...in having the opportunity to be a light.
I delight ...to love each one of the children.
I delight ...to pray for each child.

What does the word "delight" mean to you?

Blessings and love,

Note: The photo of me with the children was taken for an article published in the Arizona Republic on women with fertility issues and how they dealt with it.  These are not the children I work with in our school today.  Permission was granted by the parents of the children pictured here.

Where Do You Turn For Help?

Where do you turn for help?  

When life gets hard-

  • do you run to tell others?
  • do you keep to yourself as you try to figure out a solution?
  • do you try to pretend that nothing has changed to keep up appearances?
  • do you get so depressed you don't want to leave your home?

To continue reading, please head over to Laced with Grace.

Laced With Grace

Blessings and love,


New Year Blessings

Photo Credit: WunderPhotos SunsetFL

January 2012; a new year; a new beginning.

As I continue counting my One Thousand Gifts, I'm aware that each day is really a new beginning. Because of God's incredible grace, I am free.  I'm not overwhelmed or weighed down by my sins.

 22 "Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,    for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning;    great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;    therefore I will wait for him.”Lamentations 3:22-24

#303 The gift of God's grace
#304 Forgiveness of my sins through Jesus
#305 Freedom from condemnation
#306 God's love in me

I returned to school after a two week break.  I almost forgot how much I love to step foot on our campus.  As the little children spotted me, I heard the sweet sounds of "There's Miss Debbie" or "Hi Miss Debbie".  The first thing little Max did was to snap his finger.  I taught him to do that before break and he'd been practicing.

The children were eager to learn.  As they sat in front of the word wall, a new sight word was introduced.  The new word was "see".  How fun to see how excited they become as their minds absorb new lessons.

Our letter for this week was "L".  The children come to the front of the classroom and try to find all of the L's in our poem.  It might be a lower case or an upper case L.  Anika is searching.  Notice the stool that she uses so she can reach the letter.

Sometimes those "L's" are hiding and the children need a friend to help them out.  Max points out the hidden l in walk to Lauren.

#307 The sound of the children's voices
#308 The excitement of learning how to snap a finger
#309 Observing the children learn new words as they begin to read even at the age of 3
#310 Watching one child help another

I had an appointment in town after school so I stayed overnight at Greg's mom's house.  She lives closer so I didn't have so far to drive at night and in the morning.  What a nice time I had spending the evening with Gloria.  She had dinner waiting for me and we had time to talk and laugh.  She doesn't drink coffee but knew I enjoyed my cup of java first thing in the morning.  So her daughter Amy had purchased some packets of Starbucks coffee for me to enjoy. :)

#311 The first cup of coffee in the morning
#312 Spending time with Greg's mom
#313 Learning things about my husband from his mom
#314 Sharing girl talk
#315 A much closer drive to work

I'm linking up with Ann of A Holy Experience for Multitudes on Mondays.

Blessings and love,

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