Heart Choices: July 2012

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When Trouble Comes What Do You Do?

When trouble comes, what do you do?  Which way do you turn?

Our quote for this week's In Other Words Tuesday comes from an eBook entitled Psalm 91: He Who Dwells.

He also promises to be with us when we are in trouble. Notice that He didn't say that He would take troubles away.  That's because we will encounter trouble.  We will have trials and disappointments.
Psalm 91: He Who Dwells by Lara Velez

I don't know about you but I tend to do some heavy duty praying when troubles come.  I begin by asking God to remove my troubles. I want Him to make things right and ...to do it now please. 

That's my typical first response.  

Although God does have the power to remove it, I find that He often chooses to use the very thing I want to remove to ...change me.   

Imagine that!

I've learned that some troubles come:
  • As a consequence of poor choices
  • Overflowing consequences of someone else's poor choices
  • To teach me, train and refine me
  • To help me discover and uncover what's really in my heart
  • From simply living in a sin laden world
But the important part of going through troubles is ...what do you do?  Which way do you go?

I've discovered that the best place to go is to spend quiet time with the Lord.  No matter where I live, I find a place to go each morning and pour out my heart to the One who holds everything in His hand. He is sovereign and everything must go through His fingers of love before it touches me.  How thankful I am for that.  

I've learned that troubles cause me to draw closer in my walk with Him.  He is my comforter.  Many Scriptures have helped me to endure while going through troubles.

Isaiah 41:10

New International Version (NIV)
10 So do not fear,(A) for I am with you;(B)
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen(C) you and help(D) you;
    I will uphold you(E) with my righteous right hand.
I have this verse laminated and placed right in front of my computer screen.

Psalm 73:25-26
New International Version (NIV)
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?(A)
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.(B)
26 My flesh and my heart(C) may fail,(D)
    but God is the strength(E) of my heart
    and my portion(F) forever.

Yes, He may not immediately remove all of my troubles but He teaches me in the midst of them.  I've learned to hold things of this world more loosely.  And I've learned that He is faithful and trustworthy.

I'm linking up with Sunflower Faith for In Other Words Tuesday.

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday: Beyond

It's Five Minute Friday.  We get to write for five minutes flat on a word that is given to us by Lisa-Jo of Tales from a Gypsy Mama.  The word for today is ...beyond.


It can be all too easy to get so caught up in the now of life. Circumstances that aren't perfect.  Ongoing struggles that never seem to end.  A feeling of overall fatigue.  Realizing that I need to get back into habits that help to move me forward towards my goals.  I want to get beyond the now and into the future that God has planned for me.

I read in my devotional "Streams in the Desert" this morning.

"The world says that 'seeing is believing', but God wants us to believe in order to see."

In order for me to see beyond my present circumstances, I need faith in God's plan.  Am I willing to grab hold of His hope for me?  Or will I stay stuck in the now?


I'm linking up with Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday.

Blessings and love,


Word-filled Wednesday ~ Promises of God

The Word of God contains many promises for the child of God. During times of trial, it's good to read and embrace those promises. They help me endure in the midst of a trial.

Taking God at His Word and truly believing it provides me with the strength to continue on.  

Continue to do what is right ...even when you feel like you cannot.
Continue to do what is right ...when you can't see the end of the trial.
Continue to do what is right ...even when you don't understand.

Trust God in the midst of the trial.  He is faithful.

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

Blessings and love,


Where is Your Refuge?

Where is your refuge?  When life is uncertain, where do you turn?

It's In Other Words Tuesday.  Psalm 91:4 is our quote for this week.

Life can be hard.  Our world is changing.  With the internet and instant everything, I sometimes feel bombarded.  And so much of it is negative and scary.  My senses get overwhelmed with the tragedies and violence I see on TV and on my computer screen.

Sometimes I wish life were more simple.  I daydream.  I browse through Pinterest.  I find beautiful photos and ideas.  A refuge from reality.  

But it's only a temporary escape.

I've been reading "Psalm 91: He Who Dwells" by Lara Velez.  Btw, it's only $.99 on Amazon as an eBook.  She goes into depth on the original Hebrew text for each verse.

The NLT for verse 4 is:
He will cover you with His feathers.  He will shelter you with His wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

After the author defined words like cover and shield, she reworded the text as follows:
His truth and His faithfulness are a large spiked shield surrounding you.

I don't know about you but that gives me such an amazing picture in my head.  I want that kind of protection!

We don't always get to see the enemy of our souls.  He is a master of disguise.  The thoughts that invade our mind.  The images our eyes see.  We can shrug our shoulders and say 'that's life'.  Or we can choose wisely as we read and ...obey the Word of God.

I want to run for cover under the refuge of His wings.  It's a place of safety.  Yes, I live in this world.  I'm not escaping reality.  But I can still navigate this world and allow His love to permeate and spread to others as I dwell in His presence.  I want to be covered with His feathers; finding refuge under His wings.

How about you?  Where is your refuge?

I'm linking up with Sunflower Faith for In Other Words Tuesday.

Blessings and love,

Photo Credit: Welcoming Walls Etsy shop

Tragedies and Violence

Photo Credit: whec.com
I was horrified by the news of the shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.  I cannot even imagine what was going through this young man's mind to commit such an act against innocent people who were looking forward to the midnight showing of the latest Batman movie.

Photo Credit: Ghana Nation
It is also one year ago that the massacre occurred on the island of Utoya and the Oslo bombings in Norway.  It's beyond me how people justify their actions.  A distant cousin of mine was on the island during the shooting and survived by hiding in a latrine.

I read a blog post written by a Christian woman who was in the theater in Aurora with her daughter.  They both survived and she wrote about her experience.  I would highly recommend reading this one.  It's so hard to make sense out of a tragedy like this.  She wrote the following words on A Miniature Clay Pot:

God is always good.
Man is not.
Don’t get the two confused.
We will continue to praise and worship our mighty God, anticipating that He will bring beauty from ashes, as only He can do.

This touched my heart.

I don't have all the answers.  I don't understand why people choose to commit such horrific acts.


A Thousand Little Things

A thousand little things.  I've been counting my every day blessings most Mondays with Ann Voscamp of A Holy Experience.  Ann is the author of One Thousand Gifts, a New York Times bestseller.
I love the group  Point of Grace and recently heard this catchy tune. I thought it went right along with having a thankful heart for those little things each day.  Enjoy ...

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

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday ~ Enough

It's Five Minute Friday when I link up with Lisa-Jo of Tales from a Gypsy Mama.  The rules are to set the clock for five minutes and write.  No worrying about getting it perfect; just write.  Our prompt for today is ...ENOUGH.

So here goes ...start.

Enough!  How much stuff does a person need?  I'm so tired of unpacking boxes as we've been moving for months now.  Yes, it's challenging given that we started out with a house that was almost 4,000 square feet plus a vacation home that was 2,500 square feet. And we're trying to fit it all into a 870 square foot condo with no garage for storage.  Yikes!!

What's in the boxes?  I don't even remember half of what is in them.  I have clothes that I haven't worn in years.  I have boxes of Christmas decorations.  Boxes of cards.  Boxes of ribbons.  Enough!

What do I do with boxes of receipts from business expenses?  And photo albums, oh my.  The older albums take up so much room.  I hope to scan in my photos and create new albums that take up much less room over time.  But how many photos can I save?  I almost feel like a person on the TV show 'Hoarders" as I find it hard to part with many mementos.  But enough ...

I will no longer keep every Christmas card or birthday card I receive.  There's just no room for it.

I will upload all of my photos online.

I will go through my closet and donate clothes I no longer fit into or haven't worn in the last year.

However, I will keep my Worth Collection clothes that I cannot part with.  I paid too much money for them years ago and they are classic.  I will lose at least ten pounds so I can fit into these clothes once again.  Enough ...


Blessings and love,


Who Has Impacted You?

Who has impacted you?  Do you ever consider the people who have most influenced your life?  

Maybe it is:
  • A family member 
  • An author whose book influenced the way you think
  • A person who offered you encouragement
  • A famous person you try to emulate
  • A person who demonstrated integrity despite difficult circumstances
  • A teacher who gave you a love for learning
  • An achiever who overcame obstacles to pursue their dream
It may be that the person who impacted you is now dead.  But what you learned from them lives on.  

I've been impacted by many people.  Today I want to mention two people and both of them have since died.  However, the impact they made in my life lives on.  

Eileen suffered for years with a heart condition due to arteriosclerosis and a heart valve problem.  However, despite frequent emergency room visits and hospitalizations, she always found humor.  I could always hear sounds of laughter even before reaching her cubicle.  She took dance lessons at the senior center and joined a dance group of older ladies who entertained people in nursing homes.  She loved reruns of I Love Lucy and old black and white movies.  She loved high tea and sipping from the good china cups.

Eileen taught me to live, love and laugh.    

Georgia died of a heart condition that was similar to the one I had corrected when I was seven years old.  However, her heart defect wasn't discovered until she was much older so irreversible changes occurred.  She struggled each day trying to get enough oxygen.  But her impact touched many.  She was the person who introduced me to Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).  She suggested that I study the Bible verse by verse and apply it to my life.  She invited me and personally sat next to me through my first session which I loved.  I continued in BSF for years and even worked as a children's leader for seven years.  

Georgia taught me to love God's Word and to apply it to my life.

How about you?  Can you name someone who has impacted your life?  Hopefully, it's in a good way but it may not be.  A negative influence may be just the thing that propelled you to live differently.  Will you share at least one person that impacted you?   

Blessings and love,

Photo Credit: Exclusive Concepts

You Are Beautiful

You are beautiful!  It can be hard to hear those words and really believe it.  After all, I see the magazines and watch TV.  The women look so perfect.

When I was younger, it was easier.  But as I'm getting older, I don't really like what I'm seeing in the mirror.  

I began blogging in 2007.  I reviewed the blog posts I wrote at the beginning of Heart Choices.  I found one that I titled 'What is Real Beauty'.  Dove produced a commercial in 2007 that won an advertising award.  You've got to see what really goes on behind the glossy photos that we see in magazines.  It's unrealistic and places such pressure on women.

I met a new blogging friend in October of 2008.  Her name is Jill Samter.  I read a post she wrote on her blog and left a comment. She visited Heart Choices that day and left one for me.  Since that day, I've come to know her heart as I've followed her journey.  Jill is always accompanied by her camera and photographs life all around her.  I've been so inspired by how much she has grown in her craft.  

Oh and did I mention ...Jill has nine children?   Jill and her husband adopted seven children from different countries.  

Jill is passionate about women discovering their true beauty.  This is her promotional video for the work she is doing.  I cried when I watched it.

The world sends women the wrong messages about beauty.

1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV):

But the Lord said to Samuel, (A)“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, (B)but the Lord looks on the heart.”

If only we could get this message in our hearts and truly believe it!  

I have to admit that I struggle with this.  The last few years have been hard on me and it shows on my face.  But those struggles have resulted in a stronger faith and an increasing trust in the Lord.  So the extra wrinkles may represent lessons I've learned.  And I want the beauty that is inside of me to shine out and bless others.  

I encourage you to visit Jill Samter Photography to read her words as she introduces the I AM BEAUTIFUL project.  

Blessings and love,


Look Back, Forward or Always in the Present?

Is there value in looking back?  I often hear that it's important to look forward because there's nothing you can do about the past.  So why look back on what may be painful?

But I also know that history can teach us important lessons.  And learning those lessons may prevent us from making more mistakes in the future.
Big Sur, California
I've been pouring over a box full of old journals I discovered while unpacking boxes during my recent move. I've also been looking at photos I've taken over the years.  I'm looking for photos to frame and display on the walls of my new home.  I smiled when I found this one taken back in 2006 in northern California.  A fun time with good memories.

I've spent much time reading many of my journals.  I poured my heart and soul into them.  I am transported back to the feelings I had while writing.  Some were joyful and others not so much.  I notice an ongoing theme.

Heart Choices was a name I used over and over years before I began blogging.  I always believed that we have choices to make in life.  Every choice has consequences; some good, some not so good and others just plain bad.  I also realize that not all choices I've made have been the best.  But I can certainly learn from them.

Looking back, I see how faithful God has been in my life.  

I also realize how many hours I've spent with dying people.  I worked as a cardiovascular nurse specialist for 25 years.  I recorded the stories of many of these people.  I spoke at many of their funerals.  My husband has often commented that he never knew anyone who had so many experiences with dying people.  He's always encouraged me to write about what I learned from them.

Looking back, I see times when I was so joyful despite difficult circumstances.  I see periods when it was so evident that the Lord was using me for His purposes.

And then there were times when I became so overwhelmed with my feelings.  Feelings of sadness and frustration.  I would give in to them and it spilled over into the words I wrote in my journals.

As I read the Psalms, I see David who also experienced many times of joy and many times of sadness.  I am working on memorizing Psalm 25.  I've found that it's a bit more difficult to memorize the older we get but I am determined.

Listen to verses 1-5:
"To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.  Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.  No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.  Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."

I want to trust God with my life.  I want to give Him my hurts, my anxieties, my hopes and my dreams.  I want to give Him my past and my future.  And I want to give Him my now; the present time.

So as I look back a bit, I am discovering that I have much to share. Lessons I've learned, prayers that were answered even when I couldn't see that at the time.

Looking forward, I can trust that God is faithful.

So where are you?  Think about your life for a moment. 

  • Do you spend any time in the past?  
  • Do you always tend to focus on the future?
  • Do you try to live your life being present in the now?

In the present, I know that God is faithful.

Will you think on these things for a moment?

I'm linking up for Spiritual Sundays.

Blessings and love,


What Would You Do If You Had One Month Left To Live?

Just imagine you were given the news.  It's a hypothetical.  But think about it.

You have one month left to live.

What would you do with the time you had left?  Be honest!

Would you hop on a plane and finally take that island vacation you've always dreamed about?

Would you go to Paris?

How about the island of Capri?

Would you eat lots of sweets not giving a care about the calories and sugar?

Would you take your credit card and shop 'til you dropped?
Source: goo.gl via Gisela on Pinterest

Would you clean your house top to bottom so it would be nice after you're gone?

Would you buy gifts for your friends?

Would you plan a huge party to say goodbye?

Would you call your loved ones?

Would you finally forgive the one who wronged you?
Source: google.com via Dawn Ann on Pinterest

Would you finally share what's really on your heart with others?
Source: flickr.com via Despina on Pinterest

What emotions would you be feeling?

What's on your bucket list?

I'd love to read your comments.  And be honest.  No judgement here.  One month left.

How would you spend that time?

Blessings and love,


Where are you Living?

Where are you living?  That's a question I have for you today.  No, I'm not talking about where your physical home is located.  Let me explain.

This is our quote for "In Other Words Tuesday":
"His Word is a book of instructions, guidelines, and boundaries.  If we study the Word, learn His ways, and submit to His Word, we are protected."  ~ Psalm 91 He Who Dwells by Laura Velez

I actually read this little eBook (on sale now for $.99 on amazon) but I want to add the next sentence to this quote:
"If we step out of those boundaries (into sin) we are no longer under His protection."
Think about it.  I love the illustration using the umbrella.  If you stay under the umbrella, you won't get wet.  But if you step outside of the umbrella's protection, you'll get wet.

I am so thankful that I've been saved from my sins through the blood of Jesus.  However, I still walk in this world and so I get my feet dirty.  I am in no way perfect and I sin.  There are consequences when I sin.

What helps me is to follow my instruction book; the Bible.  And no, it's not simply following a bunch of rules.  When I spend time in the Word, I am changed from the inside out.  I find that I delight in what God desires for me.

I found this wall decoration on Dayspring and thought it summarized where I want to live.
Photo Credit: Dayspring
John 15:4 (ASV) says:
"Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me." 

I will say ...

  • I want to have His protection.
  • I choose to abide in Him.
  • I love to spend time in His Word.
  • I want what God wants for my life.
  • I want to bear fruit that will impact others.
  • I want to make a difference in other's lives for Him.
How about you?  Where are living?  Are you under His protection or are you venturing out where you don't belong?

I'm linking up with Sunflower Faith for "In Other Words Tuesday".

Blessings and love,


It's Hot in Phoenix

It's hot in Phoenix!  Yes, it may be a dry heat but the monsoons are coming.  Hopefully, we will get some much needed rain.  But frankly, I don't want to go outside in this heat.

So what's a gal to do and still find things to be thankful for?

Greg and I are working on getting settled in our small condo.  One of the blessings of living in a small space is that our air conditioning bills are so much lower than in a large house.  And believe me, we have the a/c running all the time.
I'm discovering ways to decorate that are very cost effective.  I took this photo of The Lone Cypress along 17 Mile Drive in Carmel, California.  It's one of my favorite places to visit.  I purchased the frame in a garage sale for a few dollars.  Yesterday I went to Michael's and found the mat on sale for $4.  So I framed my photo and hung it in my bathroom.  Now when I get ready in the morning, I'll be able to see this photo and ...smile!

Speaking of the weather, I received a phone call from my friend Terri.  She's spending three months in Carmel and told me that the temperature was only 54 degrees.  That's more than half the temperatures we're having in Phoenix!
With limited space, my writing area is situated in a corner of the living room.  I decided to hang some mementos and a few of my favorite photos.
And in the midst of unpacking the many boxes, I discovered my journals.  I'm so thankful that I recorded my journey.  I found stories of people who touched my heart and inspirational thoughts and lessons I learned along the way.  I am able to look back at people and things I was praying for.  I see that God was at work even when it seemed like there were no answers at the time.  This gives me hope for the future.

God is faithful!
Last summer I worked summer camp at school.  I had the pleasure of spending time with Sloan.  At the time she was about to enter her senior year of high school.  What a joy to spend time with her!  She contacted me through Facebook and asked if we could get together before she left for college.  I gladly agreed and had a wonderful time catching up with her. Her beautiful face and character shine through.

Still counting those every day blessings in spite of the heat in Phoenix:

#455 Air conditioning that runs perfectly
#456 Lower air conditioning bills compared to last year
#457 Lunch with Sloan, a college bound student who has an amazing future in front of her
#458 Discovering the joys of painting walls in color
#459 Framing many of my photos to hang on the walls
#460 Greg worked so hard to make my bathroom beautiful as he hangs towel racks and mirrors
#461 A surprise encounter at Home Depot with Cathy, a friend I'd not seen in about 7 years   
#462 Seeing photos of my great niece Kenzie each day on Facebook (thank you Kristin)
#463 The sweetest next door neighbor we could ask for; Caroline
#464 Continuing to work on writing my eBook
#465 Finding inspiration from my journals
#466 Remembering so many wonderful people who have died as I read their stories in my journals

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

Blessings and love,

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