Heart Choices: May 2013

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My First Visit to The Simple Farm

The Simple Farm is located in the middle of a beautiful neighborhood in Scottsdale, Arizona.  If you're not looking, you just might miss it. I had my eyes peeled for the small sign.  I was excited as I turned in to the dirt drive to park my car loaded with friends.  I wanted to visit the farm for several years now and ...I'd finally arrived.

Lylah and Michael Ledner made a decision to change their lives and become farmers. About three or four years ago, Lylah and I connected through our blogs.  Back and forth messages ensued and we discovered a unique connection.  Michael and I both grew up in Lindenhurst, a village on Long Island in New York.  He graduated one year ahead of me.  I remembered his brother Bob.  The brothers were members of a band that used to play at our high school dances.  Ah memories ...

The Simple Farm hosts a farmer's market every Thursday morning from 8:30-12.  Typically, I'm working during those hours so I've never had the opportunity to visit.  I've told many people about the farm, including Venous.  She's the mom to three of our students at school.  She's become so passionate about The Simple Farm's message that she volunteers every Thursday and is the official greeter.  Venous is the perfect ambassador for the farm.  With her beautiful smile, she has a way of making everyone feel welcome.

Venous even invited me to a special tea she hosted in honor of her mother at the Ritz Carlton last month.  Check out her aqua nails that I captured in this photo.  Venous arranged for Lylah and me to finally meet in person.  What a joy to wrap my arms around this gal, listen to her voice and see her lovely face.

But back to The Simple Farm.  This picture speaks to me.  A juxtaposition of a quiet retreat and yet the convenience of a car. How often I long to go back to a simpler time and way of living.  And yet I do love some modern conveniences.  :)

We began with a personal tour conducted by Michelle Spiller.  She explained how the vegetables and herbs were grown and cared for. We checked out the goats.  Their milk is used to create the most amazing caramels that melt in your mouth.  I know because I've eaten many of them.

Lylah was busy working but stopped to spend some time with our group.  She drew us around her under a shade tree and began to share.

 There's something so appealing about a passionate person.  Lylah shared her vision of community.  On a trip to France, she had an epiphany of sorts.  She was enjoying the more leisurely lifestyle.

  • Families preparing food together. 
  • Families sitting down to meals together.  
  • Families spending time sharing during the meals.  
How far we've deviated in America as we pursue a fast paced life of convenience.  We've lost that sense of truly listening to one another.

How often do your dinners consist of take out consumed in front of the television? Oh and did I forget the constant texting?    

Well our group had fun at The Simple Farm and we learned much.

Since I've so much more to share with you about our visit, I decided to do a part two.  I know how people don't like to read long blog posts after all.  So be sure to come back for Part 2.

Blessings and love,


The Blessing of Freedom

Memorial Day is a day to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.  So many sacrificed their lives for the freedom we can all too easily take for granted.  

I love to see American flags flying in the breeze in remembrance of their sacrifice.

I look at the sweet faces of the little children I get to work with each day at our school.  Many of their parents came to America from other lands.  How thankful I am to live in a country that permits freedom to all people.  We aren't dictated as to how to worship.  It is a free choice.  Our school is not a Christian school so there are many faiths represented.  But as I look at each face, I see them with eyes of love.  No matter what their skin color, no matter where their parents came from ...they were created by God.  And I'm so thankful that I get to have even a small impact on their lives.

At the end of the school year, we have a party with the parents.  And we end the time with water slide fun.  The kids were excited to wear their bathing suits under their clothes.  When I started to take their photos, Heidi quickly yelled out to them to cover their faces.  She knew Miss Debbie could then use the photo for her blog.  Thank you Heidi!  

Even with covered faces, I think you can still see their cuteness.  :)

And fun they had on the water slide!  If only you could hear their screams and laughter as they climbed up the stairs and then slid down into the water.  What fun!

I thank God for the opportunity I've been given to spend time with these children.  Although it was sad for me to say goodbye, I look forward to the next class that will begin in August.  

I'm continuing to count those every day blessings:

#838 Freedom to live out my faith
#839 Grateful to those who died defending our freedom
#840 Thankful to be able to fly our American flag proudly
#841 To be able to teach and love these precious children
#842 To see the growth the children have made this year
#843 To spend time with their parents
#844 To be able to photograph each step of our school year
#845 To see how the children have physically grown over the year
#846 To have a day of remembrance

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

Blessings and love,


Rest for the Weary

Rest for the weary.  This scene looks so inviting.  A time of peace and quiet and ...rest.

Our school year is completed.  Summer recess has begun.  But life continues with things to do and people to see.  The still unpacked boxes on the back patio of our condo are beckoning me.  And it's already been a year since we moved.  The front garden isn't completed.  And that book I'm writing is about 80% completed but still needs work.  

At times I feel like the children at the end of the school year.  I'm tired!

I'm also working this summer teaching Pre-K 3 & Pre-K 4 children. Although it will be more relaxed than the normal school year, there are still lessons to be planned.

So how do I rest and find peace and quiet for my soul?

Matthew 11:28-30 says:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

This morning I was reading this Scripture.  I memorized it many years ago.  I want this kind of rest.

I'm also rereading Andrew Murray's Abide in Christ book.  Here are a few tidbits that spoke to my heart:
  • "...entire surrender to Jesus is the secret of perfect rest."
  • The promise of rest is conditional on abiding in Christ
  • Don't resist the yoke as this is what causes difficulty (struggle with control)
  • Rest in His arms of everlasting love
It always seems to come back to surrender.  And it's interesting that SURRENDER is the one word I chose for 2013.

A full surrender is to obey as well as to trust, to trust as well as obey.  Hmm ...trust and obey.  I'm now singing that song in my head.  :)

So when I can't go on a vacation to the beach to get away from it all, I know what to do.  I'm learning to rest and abide in Jesus.  So even when life is hard and uncertain, I'm resting in His promise to always be with me.

How about you?  Are you weary?  How do you live in soul rest when your life is everything but restful?

I'm linking up with Charlotte for Spiritual Sundays.

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday ~ View

It's Five Minute Friday when I link up with Lisa-Jo of The Gypsy Mama.  We get to write for five minutes flat on a word we're given each week.  The word for today is VIEW.


I've experienced my share of turbulence while riding in airplanes. That up and down agitated motion causes my stomach to drop. Looking out the window, I can't see much except the color gray.  I hope the pilot knows what he's doing.  Just as suddenly, the shaking motion stops and we're cruising above the clouds at a higher altitude.  I can breathe easier now.

Sometimes life seems like that.  I don't always get to see everything clearly.  Life becomes turbulent and I don't know what will happen. Changes occur that I hadn't planned.  My perspective is blurred and I don't like it.  And yet through the turbulence I've learned to trust my Navigator.  

I cling to God.

Psalm 63:8: "My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me."

My view isn't clear right now.  But one day it will be.  In the meantime, it's my faith in God that propels me on.


Blessings and love,

photo credit: Eustaquio Santimano via photopin cc

End of School Year Blessings

This is the last week of our school year.  I've been going through photos and writing up some of the funny things the children have said this past year.  And now I'm feeling a bit sad.  It's hard to say goodbye to children I've grown to love.  Although most of them will still be at the school, it won't be the same.  It's time to let go ...

Heidi and I work so well together.  She gave me a photo album as an end of school year gift.  We think alike as my album to her should be in my mailbox by Tuesday at the latest.  Thank you Shutterfly!

In the album I received, Heidi interviewed each child and asked them questions.  She recorded them in their exact words.  I loved each one.

I had to laugh as Saniya said "Miss Debbie is special because she ties my shoes."  If you only knew how many times I have to tie her shoes!  But I really don't mind.  One day she will be able to double knot her shoes all by herself. :)

Photo Credit
At the beginning of each school year, I collect cute things the children say.  I place them in a jar like this one.  This weekend I took them out to review.

Here are a few:
  • Indira told us her grandma likes to eat lots of chocolate and she lost her teeth
  • One of the children had hiccoughs and Melika yelled out that they had the 'pickups'
  • I told Heidi that I exercised that morning and Sam yelled out "you're losing weight Miss Debbie"
  • We were talking about being good and Hadley said "we're not going to have another cranky day"
  • Violet said "I told mommy I didn't want a sandwich for lunch and she said TOUGH"
  • Vivian told me that she was happy.  I asked her why and she answered "because you're here"
Is that cute or what?  I will miss their sweet faces.  And I may even miss all their boo-boos too!

#830 The sweetest photo album 
#831 Laughing as I read the cute sayings I collected throughout the year
#832 Reviewing the children's photos from the school year
#833 Hugs galore
#834 Feeling the love of the children
#835 Having the privilege of watching children grow
#836 Seeing the delight in their eyes as they learn new things
#837 Cherishing these special memories

I love counting my every day blessings.  I'm linking up with Ann of A Holy Experience for Multitudes on Mondays.

Blessings and love,


Arcadia's Edible Garden Tour

Arcadia is one of the older neighborhoods in Phoenix.  Many people have lived and grown up here.  But a growing number of younger families are moving in.  They're making improvements to their homes while still staying true to the original character of the area. Many are creating their own edible gardens in their backyard, with organic vegetables and a variety of fruit.  Orange, lemon and grapefruit trees line the streets and yards.

I love Arcadia!  It's where Greg and I relocated a little over one year ago. When I read about Arcadia's Edible Garden Tour, I knew I had to purchase a ticket.  I'm so glad I did!

Early Saturday morning I was prepared with my map, bottled water, sunglasses and camera.  I decided to create my own route instead of the numbered list I was emailed.  I was hoping to avoid the crowds. I headed out to my first stop.

The Boho Farm is located within walking distance of my condo. Since I had other gardens to visit, I decided to drive.  This 'farm' is nestled in a quiet neighborhood.  From the moment I stepped on to the grounds, I felt comfortable and welcomed.

I noticed many of the garden decorations.  I had an inkling that this was a Christian family.  And I was right! 

How inviting is homemade lavender lemonade?  I couldn't resist.  

I made several stops at other edible gardens on the tour and learned much about growing my own vegetables.  I really don't have much space at our condo but I have a back patio and front entryway that could accommodate containers for gardening.  I was getting some great ideas!

I was looking forward to my next stop; Hal and Jill's Sweet Life Garden. I follow her on Facebook so I was anxious to see their garden and orchard located in the heart of the city.  I wasn't disappointed.

There were numerous tables set up in the yard where you could purchase lots of goodies.  I immediately noticed The Simple Farm's caramels made with fresh goat milk.  I've tasted these caramels and they actually melt in your mouth.  I was so happy to meet Lara of Hotdish as we talked about Lylah, the owner of The Simple Farm (and my friend).

Carol of Grano de Vida was handing out samples of her homemade cinnamon raisin bread.  I couldn't resist buying two loaves after tasting this most delicious bread.  Carol bakes the breads for The Simple Farm.  When I mentioned that I finally got to meet Lylah in person at a recent tea at the Ritz Carlton, she asked me if I knew Venous.  Venous is a parent of three children in the school where I work and she hosted the tea (I wrote about it here).  She volunteers at The Simple Farm each Thursday. 

I decided to make one more stop on the tour.  This home was located on a very large lot.  As I entered through the gateway, I had to laugh.  Do you see them?  Two pigs roaming around looking for a drink.  

I was so glad I spent my Saturday morning visiting edible gardens in my neighborhood.  I was especially delighted that a portion of the proceeds go to benefit the House of Refuge community garden.

I look forward to next year's tour.

How thankful I am to experience the beauty of these gardens.  I love the way people are getting back to working the land, planting and harvesting as they feed their families.  There's something so pure about this to me.

#817 The beauty of God's creation
#818 Meeting new friends
#819 Tasting sweet lemonade
#820 Thankful for a beautiful neighborhood
#821 Appreciating all that I have
#822 My health is good
#823 I am getting exercise once again
#824 Looking forward to creating my own edible garden
#825 Tasting the best cinnamon raisin bread
#826 Seeing glimpses of God 
#827 Proceeds benefit a Christian organization that helps others
#828 Beautiful weather
#829 A respite from a busy week

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

I'm also linking up with Joan of The Beauty in His Grip for Sharing His Beauty.

Beauty in His Grip Button

Blessings and love,


Celebrating Nurses & Teachers

This has been the week for celebrating nurses and teachers.  I've been privileged to be a part of both professions.

To be a nurse or a teacher requires dedication and caring for others.  

I worked as a nurse for 25 years.  After personally experiencing open heart surgery as a child of seven, I knew what it felt like to be a patient.  I wanted to give back.  So I became a cardiovascular nurse specialist.  I met so many amazing people and had many life experiences.

However, I came to a point in my life when I was able to retire.  I thought I'd spend the rest of my life volunteering, traveling and having fun ...

But it was not to be.  Circumstances dictated that I return to work after an almost ten year hiatus.

So where did I go?  I went to work at Rancho Solano Private School working in a classroom filled with three and four year old children. This is something I never expected and yet ...it's been a blessing.

Since I was unable to have children (and I always wanted them), this was a perfect environment for me.  I remember as a child lining up my dolls on the window seat of my room.  My little sister Christine sat crunched in the middle of them.  I was the teacher and I would teach school.

Sometimes life doesn't always turn out as you expect.  But in the midst of those times, I've learned to count my blessings.  God is good and how thankful I am for the opportunities He gives to me.

After all, I get to spend my day with these precious little ones.  And I love each one of them!

So thank you nurses and teachers!  You are amazing!

Blessings and love,


Where Do You Turn When You're Hurting?

Working with little children is a delight.  However, they love to run up to me every day to show me their latest boo-boos.  They lift up their pant leg so I can see a tiny scrape.  Or they hold up their finger to show me their princess band-aid.  When the other children see this they have to run over to show me their boo-boos too.

But are we adults so different?  Where do you turn when you're hurting?  Do you pick up the phone to talk to a friend?

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

Blessings and love,

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