Heart Choices: February 2013

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Are you Paying Attention to your Heart Health?

Together we are powerful. Let's unite and get to the heart of good health.

Are you paying attention to your heart health?  February is American Heart Month.  I can't believe the month is almost over.  I've been trying to wear the color red a lot lately.  Since red is my favorite color, it hasn't been that hard to do.  :)

I think many women still don't realize that heart disease is the #1 killer of women.  

I have many friends who've been impacted by breast cancer.  And being a woman I can understand why there's so much publicity to raise awareness for breast cancer.  I applaud those efforts.  But I also think that we can't ignore heart disease.  It's no longer a men's disease.  The risk for women begins to rise from the ages of 40-60. Uh oh, that includes me!

I've been participating in a private Facebook group called At Home with Kim: Weigh-In Wednesdays.  It has become such a wonderful source of recipes, challenges and group encouragement for many of us who are trying to lose a few pounds.

It's interesting to me that most younger women are more concerned with losing weight than with avoiding a disease like heart disease. But if it hasn't impacted you personally, it's easy to think it will never happen.

When I worked as a nurse in a cardiology practice, I conducted a survey of heart patients. I asked them what they were most afraid of.  Was it another heart attack or maybe dying?

The overwhelming response from heart patients was that they were afraid of losing their independence.  

They wanted to continue to do the things they enjoy and not have to become dependent on others.  I get that.  After all, I witnessed many who survived a heart attack and ended up becoming dependent.

So for all of you younger women out there who are simply trying to lose weight.  Listen up!  It's time to start those healthy habits now while you're younger.

Here's a bit of advice:
  • Establish healthy habits for life
  • Be a good example for your children
  • Walk your talk
  • Regular exercise can become a part of family life
  • Eating healthy will benefit the entire family
I think our perspective needs to change.  It's not about simply going on a diet to lose weight.  It's a long term goal of healthy living for life.  That takes time, effort and perseverance.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers helpful resources on their website.  You can access information about heart disease, cholesterol, high blood pressure and stroke.  They also offer heart healthy recipes.

I'm linking up with Kim of At Home with Kim  for Weigh-In Wednesday.

Blessings and love,


Fun Blessings

Blessings are all around if only you take the time to notice.

It can be so easy to focus on what's wrong and ...get frustrated.  

I prefer to discover what's good and ...appreciate it.

This week in our school, we had fun getting ready for Miss Vicki's birthday.  The children had to get in on the decorations too.
They were trying to blow up balloons, without much success I might add.  Hilton handed me her balloon after numerous attempts to inflate it.  She wanted me to blow it up for her.  I laughed and told her that it had lots of germs on it now.  She looked at me and quickly added "My mom and dad have the same germs as me" and grabbed the balloon so she could bring it home.  I love the responses of the children.  (Another one to be written down for our class jar to read at the end of the school year.)

Other teachers were getting in on the action of course.  Have I mentioned how much I enjoy working with younger women?  I think it helps to keep me young at heart.

Here's Miss Annie who has the best smile.  She's a kid at heart!  She was mainly responsible for arranging all the fun festivities.  I felt so badly as I took photos of the birthday girl and ...they didn't come out.  Can you believe it?  I think I opened my camera to check my disk and ruined them.  I am so sorry Miss Vicki!

I couldn't resist snapping this photo of two children during free play time.  They were reading to one another. They often play act out Mrs. Rosetti and Miss Debbie.  Heidi and I chuckle as we listen to them imitate us.
You just never know what kids will say.  This little girl was in our class last year.  She was dressed for an after school dance class.  But out of the blue, she asked me "Miss Debbie who made God?".  Mind you, this isn't a Christian school.  But when a child asks a simple and yet very profound question ...I try to answer.

I told her that nobody made God.  He has always been.  She looked at me with her head slanted to the side and said, "God made the earth and the flowers and the trees.  They are so beautiful.  But who made God?"  I tried to once more tell her that God existed before anything and that He has always been.  She shrugged and continued walking saying "The sky is so beautiful".  You never know what a child will ask or say.  So much was going on inside her little four year old head.  Praise God!

So I continue to count those every day blessings.

#698 The excitement of a birthday party
#699 Decorating with children
#700 Blowing up balloons
#701 Working with young teachers
#702 The cute things children say
#703 The profound things children say
#704 How God works in a child's heart
#705 Children trying to read to one another
#706 Reconnecting with a friend from nursing school on Facebook
#707 Words flowing as I continue to write my book
#708 Kind words from friends and family
#709 Snow in Phoenix (and yes you read that right)
#710 Rain in Phoenix
#711 My car that continues to run well and look good after 12 years

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

Blessings and love,


My Virtual Vacation

Do you daydream?  I'm definitely a day dreamer.  Sometimes it's good for me to take a virtual vacation.  It's especially good when I know I'm not going anywhere. :)

So I hope you will indulge me while I show you a few scenes from my vivid imagination.

I can just picture myself sitting in this rocker reading a great book or simply enjoying the view with a cup of tea in hand.
Traditional Porch design by Dallas Media And Blogs Sarah Greenman

When I start to feel hungry, I venture inside to this amazing kitchen. There's plenty of room to cook with many healthy ingredients I obtain from my vegetable and herb garden.  Remember this is a virtual vacation.  These photos came from a website I enjoy called Houzz.  And of course, I don't have to worry about cleaning up. 

I might enjoy a leisurely swim in the pool.

There's nothing quite like a bubble bath after a day like this.

And then I am finally ready for bed.  How about this?

Thank you for indulging me in this virtual vacation.  Now I need to get ready for work tomorrow.  After all, that's the real world, right?

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday ~ What Mama Did

It's Five Minute Friday when I link up with The Gypsy Mama.  Lisa-Jo gives us a prompt and we get to write for five minutes flat.  This week our prompt is:

What did your mama do that makes her your mama?


It was eight years ago yesterday since my mom died.  At times it seems like it was only yesterday and other days it seems like a long time ago.

When I think of my mom I think of laughter.  No matter how much pain my mom was in she always found something to laugh about. She always had a joke to share and never wanted her pain to be the center of attention.  She was not afraid of being seen as silly.  I couldn't help but join in on her laughter.

But the thing I remember most about my mama was how she listened.  She was always available to stop what she was doing to sit down and talk.  I talked to my mom about everything.

As a child, she was with me as I went through open heart surgery. We waited together in clinics that took all day long.  And we talked and talked.

As a teenager, she listened to me talk about boys.  She gave advice when asked.  She never tried to cut me off or think I was silly.  She listened and I always knew she would make time for me.

As an adult, she listened.  We talked about our faith, life, family. She listened when I was heart broken when I was unable to have children.  She knew how much I'd wanted a family.  Even when she was in such pain, she walked up the stairs in my home to comfort me when she knew I was hurting.

I miss my mom.  But I have to say that I am comforted to know that one day I will see her again.  You see we shared our faith in Jesus.  And that is what makes it bearable.


Blessings and love,


Where Does Loneliness Lead You?

It's another Faith Barista Jam and the prompt we've been given for today is the following:

How has loneliness been a part of your faith journey with Jesus?
 Ah loneliness.  Loneliness is a feeling I certainly don't long for.  In my futile attempts to change my state when I'm feeling lonely, I can easily reach for some instant gratification.  Come on; you know what I mean.  How do you handle lonely?

  • A huge scoop of ice cream when you've been determined to lose weight
  • Calling that person you know isn't a good influence but is so much fun
  • Spending hours on Facebook
  • Going shopping as you buy things you can't afford 
  • Crying
  • Escaping by sleeping or self-medicating
I'm sure you could add your personal favorite to this incomplete list.

I like to think that loneliness leads me to ...Jesus.

In the past, I've not always gone to Him first.  But I can confidently say He has never let me down.

When I run to Jesus in my loneliness:
  • He comforts me
  • He reminds me that He loves me
  • He is always there
  • He rejoices over me with singing (can you believe that?)
  • He reminds me that I am His child
  • He teaches me through His Word and His Spirit
  • He is my refuge in the storm
  • He reminds me that He is all powerful
  • He reminds me that He can make things happen
So I'm learning to run to Jesus FIRST in my loneliness.

Zephaniah 3:17 (59 kb)

I'm linking up with Bonnie of Faith Barista.

Blessings and love,

photo credit: VinothChandar via photopin cc

The Power of Social Media

I'm amazed by the power of social media.  The writing life can get pretty lonely at times.  This is the view I see in the very early hours of each morning.  Working full time and trying to live my life doesn't provide many extra hours to simply sit, write and be inspired.  So I get up very early in the morning and ...write.

I was getting pretty down on myself the other day.  Have you ever had one of those days?  I didn't feel like doing anything or going anywhere.  Notice how I wrote feel.  I've been one who often says 'just do it and the feeling will follow'.  I think I learned that from one of the motivational tapes I used to listen to years ago. (Thanks Zig Ziglar and Tony Robbins.) But on this day I couldn't even manage to do what I needed to do so I could allow that feeling to follow.  It just wasn't happening.

My husband noticed that I didn't seem like my normal self.  Greg knows me so well and he's good at asking me probing questions to get to the bottom of it.  I answered with all those little things that were bothering me.  But he knew that wasn't the real crux of the matter.

I was having a hard time finishing my book.  

I began writing my book last summer.  I'd just finished reading Sarah Mae's How to Market and Sell Your eBook on my plane trip back to Phoenix from Florida.  Sarah Mae sold over 25,000 copies of her eBook 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way in two months!  Can you believe it?  And I'd just finished reading how she did it.  I knew I could do it.

I've been editing and rewriting a lot lately.  I realized I'd been feeling a bit insecure.  After all, who am I?  I've never written a book.  Sure I journaled for years and years but that's different.  I read tons of blogs.  And I read many books.  The popular authors seem to write totally different from my style.  Without realizing it, I'd changed some of my writing style to be more in sync with what people seemed to like.  I gave my husband one of the chapters to read and Greg knew right away.  He told me I had stopped writing from my heart.  We talked for some time about this and I felt so much better.  I am not an Ann Voscamp or a Margaret Feinberg.  I am Debbie and I just need to share what God has placed on my heart.  I'll trust Him with the results.

The next morning I awakened very early and began writing.  It just seemed to flow so easily.  And what I was writing came from my heart; Debbie's heart.

I was so excited so I wrote the following on my Facebook profile page:

How thankful I am to my husband Greg Petras. I was frustrated with the progress of my book. He read parts of it and told me I had stopped writing from my heart. I realized I was trying to be more like popular writers instead of being myself. I may not sell tons of books but I must be true to myself and share the stories with others with the gift God gave me. This morning I've already written almost 2,000 words.

Suddenly and right before my eyes likes and words of encouragement began to appear.  I was amazed!  Friends from work, family, childhood friends, relatives from Norway wrote comments to encourage me.  My heart was overflowing with gratefulness.  And they kept on coming...

I learned so much from all of this.  If you've started something but feel discouraged, don't quit!  I found this quote on Pinterest that fit the situation so well.

I started to write because I believed God gave me a message to share with others.  And I will not quit!

Now I'll have to leave you as I need to continue writing my book.

Blessings and love,


Unexpected Blessings

I love those unexpected blessings.  I had the pleasure of spending time with two and a half year old twins this past week.  They are in the Mini-Mustang class at our school.  I knew their mom was a Christian so when we had time alone I began to sing "Jesus Loves Me" to Lizzie.  She looked at me, smiled and began to sing along. She knew all of the words!  When her mom came to pick them up, I told her and she hugged me.

I had the opportunity to attend a morning conference last week on the campus of our high school.  As we spent time in several of the classrooms, I couldn't help but notice a book I knew well.  The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom is a book I've read several times.  I pointed it out to Heidi and shared the story with her.  How glad I was to see that this book was being discussed in the high school (which is not a Christian school).  But this true story of the ten Boom family is a story of a family who stood up for what they believed was right.  As devout Christians, they made the decision to provide a refuge or hiding place in their home in Holland for many Jews so they wouldn't get sent to the death camps.  Unfortunately, they were discovered by the Nazis and were also sent to the camps.  The whole family died there except for Corrie ten Boom who eventually came to the United States and shared her story.  I remember my blogging friend Sonja of Bits & Pieces sharing stories of Corrie ten Boom as she came to visit in her parent's home when she was growing up.

How thankful I am to be working with Heidi.  She finds fun in just about everything.  We were checking out the student's chairs that swivel around.  Before I knew it, Heidi was clowning around.  I love that about her.

I love to spend time with the staff of teachers.  They are all younger than me but I enjoy that.  I get to see all the latest fashions.  Annie (in the middle) often meets me on Sunday mornings for iced tea at AJ's.

And here I am in what we call Red Room.  Of course, I had to wear something red.  All I can say is that I love working here at our school.

So I continue to count my every day blessings.  I love that there are many unexpected blessings too. :)

#688 Singing "Jesus Loves Me" with the sweetest little girl
#689 Learning to live out my faith without words at times
#690 Finding glimpses of God in the classrooms
#691 Having fun with Heidi
#692 Getting to know younger people
#693 Observing children draw, color, do puzzles and play outside
#694 Taking photos of the teachers and children
#695 Having an extra day off this weekend (President's Day)
#696 Getting back in touch with childhood friends on Facebook
#697 Finally feeling better after taking a Z-pack of antibiotics

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

Blessings and love,


The Greatest Love of All

Happy Valentine's Day!  Now before you think I'm going to belt out Whitney Houston's popular song "The Greatest Love of All" calm down ...I'm not.  It seems that only the little children in our Pre-K 3 class don't mind my singing.  :)

Maybe you thought I would write about my special Valentine, my husband Greg.  We've been married 28 years now.  And yes I love him very much.  Just the other day he held me and told me that he was so glad he gets to share his life journey with me.  That totally melted my  heart.  It was much better than a box of chocolates. Happy Valentine's Day Greg!

For those of you who are newly married or about to get married, I want to tell you something that is the truth.  Marriage is hard!  I hear people say they are best friends with their spouse and they never argue.  I have a hard time believing that.  Marriage has its ups and downs.  There are moments when I feel so 'in love' with my hubby and other times when I choose to love him.  Do you know what I mean?  So let's get real here.

Maybe you thought I'd write about the three and four year old children I get to spend my days with at school.  Yes, I love each one of them.  And I feel very fortunate to spend this season of my life in a job I never imagined I'd be doing.  I love the kids and my co-workers.

But the greatest love of all is ...Jesus.  

  • He gives me strength when I haven't any
  • He gives me love like I've never known before
  • He gives me hope even when all seems so bleak
  • He gives me joy as He provides me with a new perspective
  • He gives me love for others as His love overflows from within me
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV

I pray that each one of you who read Heart Choices knows Jesus personally.  He loves you so much.  You can always click on the red READY button if you scroll down on the left sidebar to find out more.

I'm linking up with Bonnie for this Faith Barista Jam on LOVE.

Blessings and love,


Weigh-In Wednesday ~ Refocus

It's Weigh-In Wednesday.  I would love to share how I lost another couple of pounds and that I exercised every day but ...it just wasn't one of those weeks.  I've been fighting allergies and a sinus infection that's left me fatigued.  Many of the children in our Pre-K 3 class have had colds so along with that comes lots of runny noses and coughing.  Although we teach them about covering their coughs with their elbow and using tissues to wipe their little noses, they sometimes forget.  So it's been one of those weeks.

Keep Your Eyes on the Goal

However, I'm keeping my eyes on the goal of living a healthy lifestyle.  For me this means one I can live with long term; not a short term diet to lose a few pounds.  There will be those days or weeks in life. It's important to not lose sight of my goal.

Can you can identify with this picture?  I certainly can.  The little birthday girl is still wearing her crown.  But she is so tired.  But don't give in and give up!  This is not the time to reach for that bag of chips.  Yes I'll admit I did indulge and eat too may Girl Scout cookies. :)

This is the time when it can be a temptation to give up and scrap the whole plan.  But don't do it!


This is the time to refocus.  Maybe losing 10 pounds in two weeks was a bit unrealistic after all.  Why not work on planning healthier meals and writing them down once a week.  I started to put together a huge salad of assorted lettuce and veggies each Sunday evening. When I pack my lunch for work, I simply grab a healthy salad with a bit of low calorie dressing.  I add a few pieces of fruit and I'm all set. I've also been using my crock pot so dinner is easy when I come home in the evening.  A little planning makes a huge difference and doesn't allow me time to get so hungry I reach for whatever is available.

I've found Pinterest to be a great source for many  healthy recipes. I know it can be easy to get distracted by all the yummy high calorie foods you see there.  But there are many low calorie ideas on Pinterest too.  This black bean salad is one I've made and it's good. You can click through on the photo to get the recipe.

So don't give up when you've had one of those weeks.  It's time to refocus on the long term goal; healthy living.

I'm linking up with Kim of At Home with Kim for Weigh-In Wednesdays.

Blessings and love,


The Blessings of Fun Days

Pajamas and pancakes at school?  You betcha!  And what fun we all had including the teachers.  I don't remember days like this when I was a kid in school but I'm not complaining.

The children were adorable in their favorite pajamas.

Even the teachers got to wear their pj's and eat pancakes.  Greg laughed and asked me if I had enough gas in our car.  He didn't want me to stop for gas on the way to work in my pajamas after all.

Five years ago I would have laughed if someone told me I'd be working in a classroom with three and four year old children.  But the events in my life changed almost overnight and so I returned to the work force full time.  

Only God could have orchestrated a job like this for me.  A woman who always wanted children but couldn't have them.  A woman who figured that part of her life was over.  

But God never forgot my desire and He met my need just when I least expected it.  

As I relish the fun days with the children and Heidi, I quietly thank God.  I couldn't have predicted this. 

I think of Psalm 37:4-5 (NIV)
Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in Him and He will do this.

How thankful I am to trust in Him.

I continue to count those every day blessings.

#675 A fun day in our Pre-K 3 classroom
#676 The sound of laughter
#677 Eating pancakes with children
#678 Getting to wear pajamas to work
#679 Learning to trust the Lord
#680 Thanking Him for remembering my heart's desire
#681 Thankful for His provision
#682 Believing His promises
#683 Answers to prayer
#684 Hearing my dad's excitement that he is now online
#685 Thankful that my 84 year old dad is willing to learn new things
#686 Beautiful days in Phoenix
#687 Beautiful red geraniums that brighten my outside entryway

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

Blessings and love,

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