Heart Choices: September 2012

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Five Minute Friday ~ Grasp

It's Five Minute Friday when Lisa-Jo of The Gypsy Mama gives us a word to write about for five minutes flat.  The word for today is ...GRASP.


When I think of the word grasp, I think of reaching and holding on to the ones I love.  I want to protect them from life and hurts in this world.  I want to teach them and treasure them.  As I look at this photo of little Kenzie (my great niece), I am reminded that I cannot grasp her enough.  After all, she lives in Florida which is a distance from Arizona.  I treasure the times I do have with her.

But I've discovered that instead of grasping, I can trust God with her life.  I can pray for her.

I've tried grasping the things I love in the past.  But I cannot hold on to them tightly enough.

I need to open my hand and release.

I am releasing them to One far more capable than myself.

I am recognizing that He knows what's best.  And I make the choice to trust Him with those I love so dearly.


How about you?  Are you grasping those you love?  

Blessings and love,


The Best Time to Exercise

Source: fitsugar.com via Debbie on Pinterest

When is the best time to exercise?  I've heard that the morning is the best time to exercise.  Maybe the above Pinterest quote is true?

I've been trying to establish new habits with a goal of losing 20 pounds.  I set up a schedule for myself.  I began with the intention of exercising in the morning before work.  After all, I am a morning person.  But as you can see, I have many other items on my morning agenda.

This was the schedule I came up with and wrote about in another post.

  • Alarm goes off at 5am (I don't think about it and quickly get up)
  • Coffee in hand
  • Quiet time with my Bible, journal, pen already set up the night before
  • Exercise on treadmill (time depends on whether or not it is a hair washing day)
  • Weights every other day
  • I try to do my shoulder exercises because of my previous rotator cuff injury (homework from my Physical Therapist Kristina)
  • Make and pack my lunch for work including salads, fruit
  • Have breakfast of cereal and fruit
  • Shower and dress
  • Leave for work by 7:30am
I've found that it's important to evaluate progress each week.  After all, if it's not working why continue?

I had no trouble getting up on time.  I simply had to get to bed at a reasonable hour.  Coffee and quiet time are a necessity.  After all, I need patience and the Lord's guidance each day as I work with little children.

But I found that I was having trouble getting to work on time when I exercised in the morning.

So I've switched things up.  I began to exercise as soon as I got home from work.  Since my husband works from home, I had to have his cooperation.  After all, no distractions.  I get changed and hop on the treadmill for a minimum of 30 minutes.  I'm going to increase the time to 45 minutes in the next week but I wanted to work on establishing the habit first.  It's better to walk on the treadmill at a slower pace for a longer time than to go faster for a shorter time.

This week has gone much better with this amended schedule.  I've been consistent with my exercise.  Greg knows where I'm headed as soon as I get home from work.  He told me that works out better for him too as we eat our dinner a bit later.  We have time to talk and spend time together.

The bottom line is I only lost one pound.  However, I'm not discouraged.  The new healthier lifestyle will eventually convert into a healthier me.  And that's what's important.

I also have another change in my schedule.  I attended one Pilates class that was taught by my next door neighbor Caroline.  I was so sore the next few days but it was so good.  I will be taking this class every Thursday evening.  Flexibility is something I need to focus on!

I'm joining Kim of At Home With Kim for Weigh-In Wednesdays.

So let's get personal.  How are you doing with your exercise?

  • Do you need to evaluate your schedule and change things up a bit?  
  • Is exercise becoming a part of your daily routine?
  • Do you have an accountability group?

Blessings and love,


Nothing But the Truth

It's "In Other Words Tuesday" when we get to write on a quote chosen by our host for the week.  Nina of Mama's Little Treasures chose the following quote for today:

“The greatest distinction between Christianity and other religions is that the death of its founder did not mark the termination of His life and ministry. . . . . The Resurrection is the hinge on which the truth of our faith turns, and without it nothing else would really matter. . . . The dynamic joy of our faith would turn into speculation, and Christianity would be simply one of many human philosophies and religious theories.”
Nothing But the Truth: Upholding the Gospel in a Doubting Age by John MacArthur

People can debate all they want.  But if the resurrection didn't happen, my faith is in vain.

I believe in my heart that Jesus died for my sins, rose again and is alive today seated at the right hand of God, the Father continuing to intercede on my behalf.

This Truth is the reason I can:

  • Be joyful despite difficult circumstances
  • Wake up each  morning with praise on my lips 
  • Forgive easily
  • Be free from the punishment of my past sins
  • Love others with the love of Christ
  • Not worry about always having to prove myself to others
  • See hurting people through His eyes
  • Be certain in my heart that I know the end of the story
  • Be comforted knowing I will see my loved ones again in heaven
  • Know that I am never alone
  • Rejoice that my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life
  • Live each day in His strength and not my own
I could go on and on but the list would be so long.

Jesus claimed to be the Messiah.  He claimed to be equal with God. The Jewish religious leaders were appalled by His claims.  Many in our day think Jesus was a good man.  But if Jesus was not who He claimed to be, He really would be a lunatic and a liar.

I believe John MacArthur's quote is true.  

Jesus is alive.

I am free because of this fact.  

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am(AI) the bread of life.(AJ) Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes(AK) in me will never be thirsty.(AL) 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me(AM) will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven(AN) not to do my will but to do the will(AO) of him who sent me.(AP) 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me,(AQ) but raise them up at the last day.(AR) 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son(AS) and believes in him shall have eternal life,(AT) and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:35-40

So let's get personal.  Who do you say Jesus is?

Blessings and love,


Where Do Your Blessings Come From?

I love to count my every day blessings.  It is good to focus on these things.  I'm on the lookout for those blessings and they seem to come when I least expect them.

Our family's Lil' Norwegian is an amazing blessing.  I love the photos my niece Kristin posts on Facebook of Kenzie.

I completed a study on the book of Revelation called A Heart To See Forever by Catherine Martin.  In one of the study questions, Catherine wrote the following statements about the seven blessings in Revelation.

"That word for bless is makarios and means that your satisfaction comes from God and not from favorable circumstances.  It is a wonderful thing to be blessed by God."

I thought of how so many consider blessings to be only the seemingly good things they get or do.  But in the Lord's eyes, that is not always so.  To find contentment in relationship with Him is the best blessing.

The past week was picture day at our school.  The children normally wear school uniforms but they were permitted to wear what they call normal clothes for photos.  I had to laugh at this one!

I wish I could show you this whole picture but check out Hadley's shoes.  Are they cute or what?

I'm linking up with Ann of A Holy Experience as I continue to count ...

#535 Completing a study on the book of Revelation
#536 A friend from school went to church with me yesterday
#537 Sharing an iced tea at Paradise Bakery with Iva, a meeting that was long overdue
#538 Getting through last week at school with the many interruptions to our normal schedule
#539 My husband cleaned our condo this weekend
#540 Treasuring my morning quiet time
#541 Enjoying the scenic drive to work each day
#542 My Wednesday evening meetup with Theresa
#543 My accountability groups for losing weight
#544 The evening temperatures seem to be a bit cooler in Phoenix
#545 Looking forward to fall break at the beginning of October

Blessings and love,


A Heart Wide Open

It's Five Minute Friday when I link up with Lisa-Jo of A Gypsy Mama. We write for five minutes flat on a word given to us this morning.  Our word today is ...WIDE.


My heart was guarded for years.  The years of infertility, the hurt and sadness, the reality caused me to guard my heart.  For years, I dreaded Mother's Day.  But over the years, God has healed my hurting heart.  And He has given me a gift of love for children.

My heart is wide open now.  I didn't know I could have this much love to go around.  But each day as I enter our Pre-K 3 classroom, I can't help but smile as I'm greeted by the little children.

"Oh look, Miss Debbie is here."

They gather around me for hugs.  They call my name and want to share a story with me.  They want my attention as I'm trying to put away my purse and other belongings in my desk.  But I can't help but stop and ...listen.

I silently thank God for giving me this gift.  For opening my heart to this kind of love I never knew was inside of me.  And I give Him thanks for not forgetting my desire for kids.

Yes, He answered my prayer but in a way I didn't expect.  He opened my heart WIDE to love many children.


Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday ~ Focus

It's Five Minute Friday with The Gypsy Mama.

We receive a writing prompt and have five minutes flat to write.

Our word for today is ...FOCUS.


I've always been one who needs total quiet to really focus.  When I would do homework as a kid, I couldn't listen to music at the same time.  I would become distracted too easily.

My husband has the ability to focus.  He can block everything else out and have that razor sharp focus.  I admire that about him.  That's something that has helped him be so creative and entrepreneurial in his career.

I tend to do many things but never perfectly.  It takes too much effort, time and I tend to enjoy many distractions.  After all, I am a popular sanguine personality.

However, I've learned that there are times in my life when FOCUS is needed.  I can't always stay in the generalities of life. Is that a word?

I've been trying to live more intentionally.  And that requires me to focus on what's really important.  With limited time and resources I want to focus my energy on what God has gifted and called me to do. With much prayer and focus on Him, I know I can do it.  Not Debbie, but Christ in me.  And then He gets all of the glory.


So are you focused?  Or are you distracted?

Blessings and love,

Photo credit: A Guy Taking Pictures via photo pin


My Spiritual Whitespace

Have you ever heard of spiritual whitespace?  Bonnie of Faith Barista introduced me to that term back in March of 2011 with this post.

For this week's Faith Barista Jam, Bonnie gave us the writing prompt to share what God has been speaking to our hearts during our quiet times.

How important it is to take time to be still and listen to His voice. After awakening each morning, I spend time praying and reading my Bible.  I have my journal opened with a pen handy to record any insights I receive from this time alone.

If I were to immediately turn on the TV or get on the internet, my emotions take over and rule my day.  So, I make the choice to begin my day with the Lord.  After all, He is sovereign.  No news headline takes Him by surprise.  So instead of doing ... I make the heart choice to be still.

I have been doing a study on the book of Revelation.  In the past, I've read through it many times.  But I wanted to spend more time there and to understand it better.  I found a workbook called "A Heart to See Forever" by Catherine Martin.  What a blessing this study has been for me.  It has challenged me to 'embrace the promise of the eternal perspective'.

What I have been hearing and learning in my spiritual whitespace is this:

  • I have a future and a hope.
  • I can rest in the promises of God.
  • I am to live a life of faith.
  • No challenge is too hard for God.
  • The world may be in chaos with wars, elections and killings but this isn't my eternal home.
  • I am to live a holy life growing in faith and knowledge.
  • I am to trust all of my circumstances to God.
  • I am to listen and ...obey His Word.
Hebrews 11 is a chapter about faith.  Listed are many names of people in the Bible who lived by faith.  Many were tortured and persecuted.  They were living by faith when they died.  They were able to persevere by faith.

I want to live by faith.

I want to be counted faithful until my last breath.

In my spiritual whitespace, God has been impressing on me the importance of walking by faith.  To have an eternal perspective no matter what the news headlines proclaim.  I don't put my head in the sand. But I do know that time is short and I want to make each moment count in light of eternity.

May He use me as an instrument to share His light with the world.

What are you learning in your spiritual whitespace?

Blessings and love,


Fitness as a Way of Life

Are you working on losing weight?  Or are you simply trying to get more fit and healthy?

I've come to this conclusion:

Fitness needs to be a way of life.  

Too many people I know have been on diets and lost weight.  But over time, I see that weight return and often even more to boot!

In the past, I've been consistent with my weight.  However, I've written about the last few very stressful years and that I've gained some weight.  You can read my account related to weight here.

I'm so glad that I have two accountability groups to help me lose 20 pounds.

At Home with Kim offers a place to discuss weight loss progress honestly each Wednesday.

At work, we have a large group of teachers who are trying to lose weight.  We weigh in each Friday and update our progress.  I've found this most helpful since we can encourage one another, especially when there are temptations like cupcakes in the teacher's lounge.  There is a spirit of camaraderie I see developing within our campus among those participating.

I've been exercising in the morning before work on my treadmill.  I must confess that I've missed a few days.

Here's my schedule:

  • Alarm goes off at 5am (I don't think about it and quickly get up)
  • Coffee in hand
  • Quiet time with my Bible, journal, pen already set up the night before
  • Exercise on treadmill (time depends on whether or not it is a hair washing day)
  • Weights every other day
  • I try to do my shoulder exercises because of my previous rotator cuff injury (homework from my Physical Therapist Kristina)
  • Make and pack my lunch for work including salads, fruit
  • Have breakfast of cereal and fruit
  • Shower and dress
  • Leave for work by 7:30am
Oh and in the midst of that I try to check Facebook for any birthdays and messages.  I also try to write my blog posts in the evening when I get home from work and then review them before publishing in the morning.  If I have time I read a few of my favorite blogs.  But I often have to wait until the evening for that.

Life is busy!

But health and fitness are my goals.  I want it to become a regular habit and way of life like it used to be for me.

Think about the following:

And I especially love this one:

So I encourage you to persevere and encourage one another to live a fit and healthy lifestyle.

How are you doing with getting fit?

Blessings and love,


Kids Make Me Smile

I love children!  I love their innocence.  I love how they say things without thinking.

They eat their lunch and snacks with gusto!  A milk mustache is a natural consequence.

Our Pre-K 3 class was in computer class.  The instructor takes attendance and each child raises their hand and says 'here'.  She called Melika's name and we heard a loud 'here' coming from the bathroom.  She then proceeded to yell that she was doing poo poo. Too much information but ...we had to chuckle.  

My great niece Kenzie is fascinated with herself.  Aunt Katie taped her and when Kenzie was fussing, she played the short video. Kenzie was mesmerized and started cooing and smiling.  

Kenzie Lee cannot get enough of watching herself!

Three year old children often have not mastered the art of snapping their fingers.  But little Sam is a wiz at it!  He's so proud that he can snap.  So Miss Debbie showed him how to snap, clap and point.  Sam will now wink at me and begin his little snapping routine.  I can't help but laugh!

After lunch, the children have nap time.  We quietly wake them up so they can have snack and get ready to go home.  These two little boys were being so gentle as they were trying to awaken their classmate.

Some of the children are signed up for after school classes such as cheer leading and dance.  I love to snap photos of them as they look so cute in their outfits.

#523 Laughter of children
#524 Innocence of children
#525 Hearing the responses from children
#526 Little girls all dressed up in dance outfits
#527 The tenderness the little ones have when waking up their friends
#528 The excitement of a snapping boy
#529 Seeing my great niece in photos and videos
#530 Phone calls with each of my family members in Florida
#531 Much needed rain in Arizona
#532 Slightly cooler temperatures this week
#533 Beautiful cloud formations in the sky
#534 A weekend of rest

I'm linking up with Ann of A Holy Experience as I count my every day blessings on Multitudes on Mondays.

Blessings and love,


Am I Graceful Enough?

It's Five Minute Friday and I'm linking up with The Gypsy Mama.  We write for five minutes flat on a word given to us by Lisa-Jo.  The word for this week is ...GRACEFUL.


As long as I can remember, I've always been trying and striving.

I want to be graceful.

I want to be able to speak and move and do things right.

I love to watch dancers.  They move their arms and bodies to the music in a way that is so rhythmic and elegant.

As a child, I was awkward.  I had the tendency to fall down and even up the stairs.  My mom sent me to dance school to learn some grace.

I've always loved to hear inspiring speakers.  Their words seem to flow and invigorate and motivate.  I listened to tapes in my car on my way to work for years.  I attended speaker workshops and became a Dale Carnegie teacher helper.  I would give example speeches.

I love to read books.  Authors who seem to use words to inspire and teach.  I work on my eBook but it takes such effort.  The words don't always come so easily.  

I seem to always strive but not come to the finish line of my perception.  But then I remember something.

His grace is enough.

I am accepted and loved by my Savior.  It's not about me always striving and trying.  It's resting in His love and yes ...His grace.


Blessings and love,

photo credit: kelsey_lovefusionphoto via photo pin cc


Do You Need Accountability When Losing Weight?

Losing weight seems to be on the mind of many of the women I see every day.  We talk about it.  We complain about it.  We try and try ...again.

I recently heard about Weigh-In Wednesdays from Barbie of My Freshly Brewed Life.  Each week those who are working on their weight check in with Kim of At Home With Kim.  It's a place of accountability, encouragement and information.  I need to lose 20 pounds.  Although I know exactly what to do, I thought I could use some accountability.

I've always been very self-disciplined with diet and exercise.  You see, for 25 years I worked as a cardiovascular nurse specialist.  I had to work with heart patients and motivate them to adopt healthier lifestyles.  I always felt it was important to walk your talk.

This is how I used to look.  I had lots of energy, could run up and down the stairs at my house with ease, hiked the mountains several times a week and went on my treadmill six days a week.

My exercise area was very convenient.  It became a daily routine. I'd walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes and do my stretches.  I used weights every other day.  More than 100 sit-ups were a part of my daily routine.  My stomach was flat.  I was able to keep my weight stable for years.  If only I'd kept this habit up!

Fast forward ...

I've experienced several years of extreme stress.  After selling our home, including all of the furniture and exercise equipment, I didn't exercise on a regular basis.  I was depressed and it was too hot to walk outside.  After all, I live in Phoenix.  I began to recite many of the same excuses I'd heard from others over the years.

My weight increased with the lack of regular exercise and eating foods I never used to consume.  Here I am at my heaviest at a wedding in 2010.

Lately, I've been feeling better.  I'm enjoying my job.  We moved into a condo that is closer to town and my work.

I'm ready to get back in shape.  

I want to be able to fit into the clothes I now have stored away.  I want to be able to get dressed quickly in the morning and not have to change because my outfit doesn't fit well.  I think I took those years for granted but never again ...

I've already begun losing a few pounds since I started exercising.  I was thrilled when I was able to purchase back my original treadmill. Woo hoo!

This treadmill is key for me.  

In Phoenix, the weather can often be too hot to walk outside.  I need something that is convenient.  I don't like to go to a gym.  I don't like to have to depend on another person to go exercise.  So having access to my treadmill makes all the difference.

A group at my work are joining together to help and encourage one another in our weight loss.  We are each contributing $5 at the start. We will weigh in every Friday and record our weight in the nurses' office.  The ending date we set is November 21.  The person who loses the most percentage of their weight gets all the money in the kitty.

So, I figure between my work group and Weigh-In Wednesdays with Kim, I should be able to hit my goal of losing the extra weight.  There's something to be said for accountability.

I just finished reading a book "Every Body Matters" by Gary Thomas. I would highly recommend this book as the author puts things into proper perspective about how proper eating and a fit lifestyle impacts how we serve Christ.  Gary talks about our bodies being instruments and not ornaments.  I liked that.  When I am fit and healthy, I have more energy and feel better.

How about you?  Do you  need some accountability to lose weight?  Maybe you simply need to become more fit and strong.  If you'd like to come along on this journey with me, please feel free to add your comments.  You can also read Kim's Wednesday posts on At Home with Kim.  I will write about my progress.  After all, I write about the choices we make every day.

Getting fit and healthy is a great heart choice!

Blessings and love,


Thankful for Simple Blessings

As I continue to count my every day blessings, I have to smile.

This used to be my bathroom in our previous home.  I enjoyed taking long bubble baths in this tub.

This is the bathroom in our condo.  It's much smaller  but I can still enjoy taking a long bubble bath.

The tub may not be as fancy but I still get to light my candles and listen to soft music.

I've realized after experiencing so many losses over the past few years that it really doesn't matter where you live.

I'm thankful for simple blessings:

#516 A place to live
#517 A wonderful family that I love
#518 A job where I get to work with little children
#519 A husband who tries to help create an atmosphere of love in our home
#520 Receiving a sweet note from my Vice Principal thanking me for my positive presence on campus
#521 A group of co-workers who are joining together to be accountable as we lose weight and become healthier
#522 A clean condo

I had to leave you with this photo of my nieces Kristin and Katie with little Kenzie Lee.  This baby is so loved.  Katie came down from New York to Florida to visit our family.  Unfortunately, I'm in Arizona so I couldn't be with them but I enjoy the photos.

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

Blessings and love,


A Day in the Life of a Pre-K 3 Class

Today is Labor Day.  I'm thankful for a three day weekend.  After all, I need this extra day of rest.

However, I'm so thankful for the opportunity to work in a classroom of three year old children.  It takes lots of patience.  And it's certainly helped motivate me to get back into shape.  After all, it can be hard keeping up with 19 little ones all day long.

I thought I'd share a day in the life with you today.

We always start our day saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  It's so cute to hear the voices of 3-4 year old children singing the Star Spangled Banner.

Since this is a new school year, we're back to the letter "A".  We have a poem and the children get to go on an "A" search.

They get to learn so much.  The beginning of the school year involves lots of teaching and reinforcement.  Heidi and I love to make learning fun in our classroom.  The children already know a few of our sayings.

It makes life easier when there are a variety of colors for scissors.

And here's another one:

There's no crying in preschool.

We took that one from the movie "A League of Their Own" when Tom Hanks character tells a woman who is on the baseball team he is coaching "There's no crying in baseball."

At the beginning of the year, there's always one or two who cry.  But they become distracted and eventually find that our day can be such fun.

They get to learn "on, under, beside ..."

They learn to write their name.

They learn to sit crisscross, applesauce, hands in your lap.

They learn that we're all friends in our class.

Miss Debbie has fun teaching a few things that aren't on our syllabus. Only a few of the children have mastered the art of snapping their finger.  Last year, Max was our best class snapper.  And this year it's Sam.  He's had an advantage though as his big sister Lily has been teaching him.  But Sam is the best snapper and he often greets me with a snap of his fingers.

Heidi read a book to the children called 'Pete the Cat'.  Sawyer loved the song that accompanied the book and often sings it in our class. He puts on a huge smile and starts singing spontaneously.  It's too funny!

I get to go to:

  • Computer class
  • Spanish class
  • Music class twice a week
  • Art class
  • PE class twice a week
Instead of sitting on the sidelines watching our PE teacher and the children, I love to join in.  I get down and do sit ups and push ups and jumping jacks and play duck, duck, goose.

Last week as I was doing push ups, little Colin jumped on my back and held my neck with his arms.  He got a little ride on Miss Debbie's back and had a big laugh.  I kept telling him to get off of my back but he just laughed and laughed.  I turned around and found a sea of faces in the window.  Many of the older kids I had in our after school program were watching.  They got a big chuckle at the sight.

I love our class.  At the end of each school year, I get sad as I have to say goodbye to the kids.  I'm so glad I still get to see many of them as they wave hello when we pass one another.  But I find that each school year provides me with another opportunity to love and teach children.  What a gift!

So on this Labor Day, I choose to be thankful for my job, the kids, Heidi and my other co-workers.

Colossians 3:23-24

New International Version (NIV)
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance(A) from the Lord as a reward.(B) It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Blessings and love,

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