Heart Choices: February 2012

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February Blessings

February is my favorite month of the year.  It reminds me why I love to live in Phoenix, Arizona.  While most of the country is blanketed in snow and cold, we experience sun and warm temperatures.  (In August I sometimes wonder why I'm living here.)

I open the month with my February 1st birthday.  My dad's birthday is usually the last day of the month of February but since this is a leap year that won't be the case.  Sorry Dad!

Working with little children opens my eyes to the world in a totally different way.  I love it!  They follow your lead and example.  I want to be on my best  behavior.

We emphasize good manners every day.  A poster board is visible and when a child uses good manners, they receive a star on the board.  When they accumulate enough stars, they get a sticker.  I have to laugh as it's a really big deal to them.  The other children clap as they receive their sticker.  I usually take a photo of them and they are so proud.  It's a good motivational tool!

Each week, we move on to a new letter.  Evan is searching our poem for the letter "M".  We are actually all the way up to the letter "S" now. I can't believe how fast the school year is going.  I can't even think about saying goodbye.  :(

Kids say the cutest things.  I keep a jar handy and every time a child says something worth recording ...I write it down and put it in the jar. By the end of the school year, we'll have a list of some of these sayings.

Little Bella was being presented with a jump rope, t-shirt and water bottle for participating in the American Heart Association Jump for Health.

When the PE teacher handed the items to her, she said:

"I've been waiting for this my whole life".  

How cute is that?

I received so many blessings this month!

#360  Beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures in Phoenix
#361  A beautiful church service with my friends Anna May and Jack
#362  The best birthday celebration I ever experienced
#363  Celebrating Valentine's Day with a class full of 3 and 4 year old children
#364  Observing the children learn new sight words and begin to read
#365  A wonderful family get together of the Sumstad's
#366  Discovering common family traits
#367  Using Google Translate to help me communicate with Norwegian relatives
#368  The joy of being hugged each morning by the children
#369  Laughter
#370  Feeling loved
#371  Being reminded of God's grace
#372  Reading books on my Kindle Fire
#373  Watching movies on my Kindle Fire

I'm linking up with Ann of A Holy Experience for Multitudes on Mondays when we count our every day blessings.

Blessings and love,


Thankful for Sumstad Family

It's Thankful Thursday and I am so very thankful for family.  I had the opportunity to meet several of my Sumstad (my maiden name) relatives for the first time.

Here are four generations of Sumstad's.  I am on the left, then Barb, Sandee and Reidar Sumstad.  Sandee was on vacation with her friends. Since they would be staying for a time in Phoenix, we arranged to have a meetup at The Farm at South Mountain.

The weather was perfect for a picnic lunch.  We got to order sandwiches at the Farm Kitchen and take them out to our table in baskets.  Then we spent time getting to know one another.

I brought many old photos I had accumulated.  Reidar has worked diligently on a site called Ancestry, posting photos, documents and even videos of our family.  I can't wait to see the video of my Nana and Grandpa Sumstad visiting his family in Seattle back in the 1940's.  Technology is amazing!

As I was speaking with Sandee, I noticed how many of her features resembled my Aunt Ruth who is my dad's only sister.

Photo taken in Sumstad, Norway
All of these family members trace their roots back to Sumstad, Norway.  It is northwest of Trondheim, Norway.  My grandfather was born on the family farm there.  He came to the US via Ellis Island and settled in Brooklyn, New York in the 1920's.

Here are a few photos of the town of Sumstad, Norway.

I felt right at home with my family.  We were able to share insights into our family, like the love of music, art, and writing.  I grew up with my mom playing the piano and our family singing Norwegian songs together.

Reidar began singing a few Norwegian songs and they came right back to me.  He even recited many Norwegian phrases that had us laughing like "uff da" and "tussen tak".  We all knew the Norwegian prayer before meals.

I began learning about second and third cousins and what it is to be a second cousin twice removed.  However, I must admit I'm still a bit fuzzy on that one.  :)

But I look forward to learning more about my Sumstad family.

How thankful for the wonderful afternoon of meeting my relatives in a beautiful environment.  God is so good!

I'm linking up with Iris of Grace Alone for Thankful Thursday.

Blessings and love,


What is Contentment?

It's "In Other Words Tuesday" and Loni of Writing Canvas is hosting this week.  Loni chose the following quote for us to write about today:

"Being content does not mean we are satisfied.  In fact, to be content is to know we will always be groaning on this side of eternity.  Yet when we believe that fullness will come, that there is more than this life, we live with contentment."
Lisa Graham McMinn, The Contented Soul
Found in devotional, Mornings with Jesus

What does contentment look like to you?  I had to laugh at the little girl and the kitty in the photo.  No worries; just pure contentment.

But life isn't quite so simple.  There are always new challenges to face, opposition to deal with and the uncertainties of tomorrow.

As a Christian, I live by faith and not by sight.  

I used to live in my dream home.  A house situated in an exclusive area of town backed up to a mountain I could easily climb each  morning.  Every piece of furniture was specifically designed to my specifications.  It almost seemed perfect; all that I had dreamed of for years.  I was satisfied with the finished product.

But life happens and changes occur.  We had to sell our dream home.

For the last two years, my husband and I have lived in a temporary house.  That was such a disappointment for me.  All of the furnishings I had taken so much time to make perfect ...were suddenly gone.

It was a reminder to me that this isn't my real home.  I'm just passing through.  There will be disappointments.  There will be let downs.  So I can't expect it to be a place of perfection.  There's a quiet knowing within me that there's more to come.

I long for my heavenly home.

But what do I do in the meantime?  I remember that God is my dwelling place.  No home, no matter how beautifully designed and decorated, is permanent.
  • I learn to rest in Him.  
  • I learn to live each day depending on His strength.  
  • I learn to take life one moment at a time.
  • I learn to count my every day blessings.  
  • I learn to love with His love.
My husband and I will be moving in the next month.  How thankful I am for a place closer in to town and work.  We were able to buy back some of our furnishings.  The new place is very small and old.  It is not in an exclusive area of town nor is it backed up by a mountain.

But I am content.  God is my dwelling place.

1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14: 1-3 (NIV)

Blessings and love,

Photo Credit: Mind Readers Dictionary

Sweet Blessings

I have had so many sweet blessings. Valentine's Day was so much more special as I got to celebrate it with our class of three and four year old children. They normally wear uniforms but on this day ...it was time for dress up!

I love frilly dresses on little girls!  I remember dreaming of having a little girl and dressing her up so pretty.

The children's parents were so helpful at our Valentine's party. They organized all the activities including the crafts.

They even brought in a chocolate fountain.  The kids had strawberries and bananas on a stick and they got to dip them in chocolate.  Yummy!

Is she precious or what?  I love the chipped nail polish; just like mine at times.  :)

The moms even did some hand painting.  The children got to choose their design and they were so excited to have 'tattoos'.  Temporary ...of course.

#347  Celebrating Valentine's Day with a children's party
#348  Awesome parents who took charge of our party
#349  Smiles of children as they tasted the chocolate
#350  The excitement over having a hand painted in bright colors
#351  A beautiful day of sunshine and perfect temperatures
#352  My sinus infection is finally getting better
#353  Enjoying the three and four year old children who share their love so sweetly
#354  Coming home to a dinner prepared by my husband
#355  A long weekend with parent/teacher conferences and President's Day
#356  Receiving a book called "The Allure of Hope" from my blogging friend Janette
#357  The cutest pair of Valentine's socks arrived in the mail from another blogging friend Bethany
#358  Acceptance and love from my Norwegian sister Sonja in an email
#359  Meeting my long time friend Helen for church and lunch afterwards

I'm linking up with Ann of A Holy Experience for Multitudes on Mondays when we count our every day blessings.  Are  you counting those every day blessings yet?

Blessings and love,


Remembering Whitney Houston

Remembering Whitney Houston ...what an incredible voice.

She had a life of fame, amazing musical talent and yet so many temptations of this world.  I was saddened when I would read of her struggle with addictions.  But I didn't walk in her shoes.  And only God truly knows her heart.

This morning, I watched several tributes to her life and legend.  As I listened to so many familiar and beautiful songs, I wanted to share a video of her singing a simple but profound song.  I pray that Whitney truly knew this in her heart; that Jesus  loved her.

My heart goes out to Whitney's 18 year old daughter, Bobbi Kristina. But this morning I read on Savvy Auntie that Ce Ce Winans is her godmother.  She has made a commitment to be very involved in this young girl's life.  Ce Ce Winans is a wonderful gospel singer who is a Christian.  I was so encouraged as I read this news.

I'm linking up with Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders for Then Sings My Soul Saturday.

Blessings and love,


Love Causes Me to Be Vulnerable

Love causes me to be vulnerable.

If I choose to love, I run the risk of getting hurt.

As I consider these two statements, I also look at the opposite side of this equation.

If I choose to close off my heart to avoid getting hurt, I miss out on possible joy and happiness.

Here is what has helped me in this love journey.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 

I trust my heart to Jesus.  He holds my heart is His hand.  He asks me to trust Him.

As a woman who always desired to have children and was unable, I am overjoyed at the gift of love He has given me for each one of the precious children I encounter every day in my work.

Was I planning on returning to work after years of retiring from a nursing career?  No!

But life circumstances happened and the need arose for me to go back to work.  I believe God had this chapter of my life all planned out in advance. And one of the prerequisites for me was to be vulnerable and trust Him with my heart.

I can tell you that He alone is trustworthy.  Being vulnerable has allowed me to love with abandon.  I am able to spend time with other people's children and experience such joy and love in return.

I'm jamming with Bonnie of The Faith Barista today on the topic of being vulnerable.

Blessings and love,


How Do You Spend Your Time?

How do spend your time?

Do you ever have days when you realize that you got nothing done that you set out to do?

Do you spend countless hours watching TV or playing games on your computer?

I believe it's important to have balance in life.  It doesn't have to be all work and no play. 

 But for me, I've found that I need some order if I'm to live a godly life.

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

Laced With Grace
Blessings and love,


WFW ~ Faith of a Child

I love little children.  They are so innocent.  They can easily give and receive love.  No wonder Jesus had such a heart for children.

Adults tend to make things so much more complicated.

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

Blessings and love,


The Best Love on Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is a day for love!

I am excited to be hosting today's "In Other Words Tuesday".

Instead of using a quote about love from a favorite book or author, I decided to go to God's Word; the Bible.

Here's the quote for us to write about this week:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
New International Version (NIV)
 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I think it is universal to say that we all want to be loved.  But when you open yourself up to love another, you become vulnerable.  What if that person doesn't love you back or betrays you?  People who have been hurt by others tend to build up walls of protection.  Hearts become hard and difficult to penetrate.

I can tell you that there's a love that will never disappoint.  That love is found in a relationship with Jesus.

When I finally realized how much God loved me, my heart began to overflow with His love.

1 John 4:16 "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."

I couldn't contain the love that was poured out for me in Jesus.  As I truly began to experience it, I was able to love others better.  Yes, I've had scars from previous hurts in human relationships.  But I began to see others in light of His love.

In our Pre-K 3 class, we teach the children what the word 'patience' is. They can now recite that it means 'waiting without complaining'.

  • Are you patient with an aging parent who may not be quite as quick as they used to be?
  • Are you patient with a small child who takes forever to tell  you something?

I've had three year old children take my face in their two hands and move it so that I was looking directly at their face.  They wanted my full attention.  They didn't want me distracted by anything or anyone else.

  • Do you feel the need to always boast of what you've done or have?
  • Are you truly happy when someone you love does something well?

  • Are you able to forgive a loved one?
  • Or do you keep reminding them over and over about how they hurt you?
I truly believe the only way we can love others in this way is when Jesus comes to live within your heart.  He alone is totally trustworthy.  He can offer you hope when you're at the end of your rope.  He can give you strength for one more day.

You can trust your heart to Him.

So how about you?  Can you live out the love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13?  It's often read at weddings.

Let's challenge one another to live out that kind of love every day.  I'd love to read your blog posts using this quote from 1 Corinthians.  Or if you prefer, you may leave a comment below.

Blessings and love,


Hosting In Other Words Tuesday on Valentine's Day

I will be hosting "In Other Words Tuesday" this week.  I'm excited about this as Tuesday is Valentine's Day.

As I was considering what quote to use for us to write about, I wanted it to be special for this particular day.  I came to realize that the best source for words of wisdom on LOVE is ...the Bible.

So here is the quote I chose:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
New International Version (NIV)
 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I encourage you to participate this Tuesday.

  • Write a blog post using this quote.
  • Link back to Heart Choices on Tuesday.
  • Share your thoughts on these Bible verses about love.
If you aren't a blogger, you can participate by adding a comment.  I look forward to reading your posts and comments on Valentine's Day.

Blessings and love,


Let Your Light Shine

Let your light shine.  This has resonated within me for many years.

What do people see when they see you?

How do you respond to others when you are in a hurry?

Do you treat others with respect and love?

Read what the Bible says and then listen to the words of this Kari Jobe song.  Be reminded of who you are to be.

Matthew 5:14-16

New International Version (NIV)

  14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I'm linking up with Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders for Then Sings My Soul Saturday.

Blessings and love,


Sick and Tired of Being Sick

Google image
I am sick and tired of feeling sick.  Two days home from work and I can't wait to get back.  This is my third round of antibiotics and I'm praying this will do it.

Here's a little hodgepodge of last week.

I love February!  My birthday starts off the month on the first and my dad ends the month on the 28th.  However, this month is a leap year.

I have spent much time on Pinterest lately but there are so many interesting and fun finds.

Source: makoodle.com via Debbie on Pinterest

I've missed the kids this week at our Pre-K 3 class.  Last week we had pajama day when teachers and students got to wear their pj's to school.  I loved that; so comfortable.

We also had snow day in Scottsdale.  They brought in manufactured snow and the kids got all bundled up in their snow outfits.  It was such fun.

And on Wednesday, I had the loveliest birthday celebration with the children.  When someone asked how old I was a child yelled out "she's 10".  Another little girl piped up and said "I knew you were 9 before".  Now don't you tell them differently, OK? :)

Miss Debbie with the kids at a pep rally
Don't you love the cute pj's?
Olivia playing in the snow
I am the one who is always taking the photos at school.  So this was a rare glimpse of me as I was taking photos of the kids.

Do you see why I love my job and want to get back?

Blessings and love,

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