Heart Choices: June 2013

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Five Minute Friday ~ In Between

It's Five Minute Friday when I link up with Lisa-Jo of The Gypsy Mama. Each week we receive a word and we get to write for five minutes flat. Our word for today is IN BETWEEN.


My name is Debbie and I'm a nester.  I love to create my space and settle in for the long haul.  I love to make a house a home. But I've had to experience two moves in the past three years.  That's not something I chose but life happens.  I keep waiting for the in between to end so I can finally settle down and ...breathe.

When will I finally arrive?  When can I rest in the now?  Will I have to move again?  When will life get back to normal?  Is this going to be my new normal?

And then it hits me.  I finally realize that it's all in between.  In this life, circumstances happen and life can't always be controlled.  I realize that I do have control over something; my response.  So I make the choice to rest in the Lord.  Even when the path is stormy and I can't see up ahead, I continue to learn to trust Him.  I'm never alone in the in between.  God is with me every step of the way.  And so I breathe ...


Blessings and love,


The Discipline of Healthy Living

Discipline is a word many people dislike.  It usually brings to mind doing things that aren't pleasant but need to be done.

Think about children.  Discipline is often required in order to teach them.  They might listen and obey but not because they want to. They tend to comply because they fear the consequences if they don't.

In our preschool classroom, if a child is misbehaving we may ask the child "do you want to lose your smile?" or "do I need to write a note home to mommy?".  The goal is to correct the behavior so they will learn how to behave properly in school.

Hopefully with maturity a person will value doing what's right.  Instead of fearing consequences, he or she will recognize the value of doing good.

So what does that have to do with a healthy lifestyle?

Disciplining ourselves to eat healthy food and to exercise can seem unpleasant at first.  After all, there's pleasure in eating sweets and high calorie food and being a couch potato.  But a steady diet of that usually results in weight gain and sluggishness.  Planning meals in advance and exercising consistently takes time and ...discipline.

But think of this.  What would happen if you continue along the path you're currently following?  Let's just say you're 40 years old.  If you gained two pounds per year, by the time you are 60 years old you'd be 40 pounds heavier.

Talk about fearing the consequences!

As we age we lose muscle mass.  Have you noticed that little jiggle under your arm?  Muscles are the energy powerhouse of our bodies. Those extra calories and sedentary living will result in weight gain over time.

Maybe we can see the value of making a few changes towards better health?  What a better attitude instead of simply fearing the consequences of continuing an unhealthy lifestyle.

Discipline doesn't have to be a bad word!

So what do I do?

  • I shop the outside aisles in the grocery store
  • I purchase fresh vegetables and fruits
  • I plan my meals in advance
  • I take healthy snacks with me to work or on the road
  • I drink lots of water
  • I exercise every day on my treadmill
  • I lift my hand weights every other day
  • I get down on my mat and stretch
So far my weight is slowly coming off.  It's not as fast as I'd like but I know I'm making progress.  So slow and steady is my mantra. Persistence and endurance are key.  I'm thinking long term.

How about you?  Are you taking the first step to discipline yourself into a healthy way of living?  I'd love to hear about your progress.

I'm linking up with Kim of Making 40 Fantastic for Weigh-in Wednesday.

Blessings and love,


The Struggle for Control

Do you struggle with control issues?  Maybe you don't consider yourself a controlling person.

I've been working with preschool children in summer camp.  The children receive swimming lessons each day.  One of the first things they learn is to float on their back.  They need to trust their swim instructor.  She asks them to look at her eyes and reassures them that she won't leave them.  Their job is to relax and listen to her instructions.

To continue reading, head over to Laced with Grace.

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday ~ Rhythm

It's Five Minute Friday when I link up with The Gypsy Mama.  We're given one word each week and we get to write on that word for five minutes flat.  Our word for today is rhythm.


It's the first day of preschool.  The children tend to be a bit shy. There are a few tears for mommy.  They are learning the rules of the classroom and how to behave.  Raise your hand.  Listen to the teacher. Go quickly to the bathroom if you need to use it.  Sit crisscross applesauce.  Keep your hands to yourself.  Line up one behind the other.  Keep your eyes on the head in front of you.  Catch your bubble; no talking.

And then they go to music class ...

Miss Storme teaches them about tempo and quarter notes and moving to the music.  They laugh and begin to relax and have fun.  They are starting to move to the music. They are getting the rhythm.  Smiles are replacing the frowns and crying.  It's contagious as they start moving and dancing.  They've caught the rhythm.


Blessings and love,


Weigh-in Wednesday: Progress Report

I've been working on getting back in shape.  For most of my adult life, I've been very active.  I got into the habit of regular exercise many years ago.  I had to practice what I preached after all.  I worked as a cardiovascular nurse specialist for 25 years and counseled patients on lifestyle changes after they experienced a heart attack or cardiac bypass surgery.  So being fit was a way of life for me.

However, circumstances changed drastically for me.  You see, I 'retired' from nursing for ten years.  At that time, I didn't need to work.  But life happens and my life as I knew it turned upside down. Talk about stress; oh my!

I began to feed my emotions with sweets and popcorn.  After moving to a different home, I found it harder to exercise.  I returned to work in a totally different field and had a longer commute.  I gained 20 pounds!

You may think that's nothing.  Maybe you have more weight to lose. All I can say is that I'm glad I didn't allow it to go on any longer.  I see many people my age who have surrendered to the fact that extra weight is just a part of getting older.  Well I'm not giving in.  I'm doing it and I'm determined!

I'm happy to report that I've been consistent in exercising each morning on my treadmill for 40 minutes.  I do my hand weights every other day.  I try to use my mat and do stretching exercises and some Pilates.  My exercise has to be done first thing in the morning before I go to work.  And right now I have to be at work by 7 am.  I have to plan for this with everything ready to go without thinking.  My Kindle is ready so I get to read during my exercise time.  I had to laugh at this image I found on Pinterest.  I'm down another pound this week.  Woo hoo!

  • I like to be able to easily into my clothes
  • I like to have energy
  • I love that it's become easier to step onto that treadmill
  • I love the increased time for reading book on my kindle
But I have to say that my main motivation isn't to look like a skinny model.  I am very realistic.  I don't want what I eat and when I exercise to be such a focus in my life.  I do want being fit and healthy to simply be a part of my every day life.  I want to focus on where the Lord has called me to be and do.  I want to quit giving in to my emotions and flesh.

So how about you?  How are you doing?

If you'd like some help and motivation, I encourage you to link over to Kim's blog Making 40 Fantastic.  She also hosts a private Facebook group where we share with one another and have some much needed accountability.

Blessings and love,


A Powerful Testimony

This morning I was watching a telecast of The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.  It was a special of their CD "I'm Amazed".  I love to listen to this choir.  I've been to the Brooklyn Tabernacle several times to worship when I returned to New York.  All I can say is that I feel like it's a foretaste of a heavenly choir.  People of all colors and nations united in their love for Jesus.  What a blessing!

This morning was no different.  During several of the songs, they had filmed testimonies of individuals who were in the choir.  So many come from backgrounds of drug and alcohol addiction.  Many were rejected by their fathers and were always looking for love in the wrong places.

This morning a beautiful young woman shared about her upbringing by hippy parents who were into sex, drugs and rock and roll.  She described her chronic depression and her drive for love and acceptance that never seemed to be satisfied.  She tried many philosophies, New Age, yoga, self help books, meditation and affirmations along with an assortment of religions.  Nothing satisfied and her depression continued.  She was invited to the Brooklyn Tabernacle and immediately sensed something different.  She realized her need for a Savior and accepted Jesus into her heart.  She said that she finally found what was missing in her life.  She almost looked like a different person compared to the photos from earlier years.  Her ready smile and peaceful countenance displayed such joy.

I love to hear testimonies like this.  I hope you take the time to watch the complete video.  All I can say is it will bless you.

I'm linking up with Charlotte for Spiritual Sunday.

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday ~ Listen

It's Five Minute Friday when I link up with Lisa Jo of The Gypsy Mama We receive a one word prompt each week and then write for five minutes flat.  Our word for today is LISTEN.


Sometimes I think listening has become an old art form.  People gather together.  Conversation ensues.  But distractions often occur. Instead of having a real conversation we:

  • chat 
  • text 
  • take photos to post on our favorite social network
  • tell people where we are
What happened to old fashioned conversation?  I yearn for it at times.

One of the true gifts we can give to another is to truly ...listen.

Forget about all the advice you want to give that person.  Forget about thinking of the next clever thing you will say to them.  Look into their eyes.  Give them your undivided attention.  Simply listen with your heart.

Will you choose to offer this gift of love to another?


Blessings and love,


The Key to a Healthy Lifestyle

What's the key to a healthy lifestyle?  You might be thinking that it must be a particular diet or fasting or exercising like a maniac.  I don't think so.  People lose weight all the time.  But so many of them gain it back ...plus more.

I believe the key to a healthy lifestyle is creating and establishing healthy habits.

I want to share something I read years ago.

I Am Called Habit

I am your constant companion,
I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
I am at your command.

Half of the tasks that you do you might just as well
turn them over to me and I will do them quickly and correctly.

I am easily managed; you must be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done.
After a few lessons, I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of all great people
and the regret of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.

I am not a machine but I will work with all its precision
plus the the intelligence of a person.

Now you may run me for profit or you may run me for ruin.
It makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me and
I will lay the world at your feet.
Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

I am called Habit!

(author unknown)

For many years, I was in the habit of exercising daily.  Stressful circumstances caused me to get out of that habit.  I fed my emotions with sweets and popcorn.  It was amazing to me that after a few months, my habits changed and not for the good.  I stopped exercising except for an occasional walk.  The result?  I gained about twenty pounds and felt tired all the time.  Now you  may be thinking that twenty pounds is nothing.  Maybe you need to lose 40 or 50 pounds.  But remember that each person is different.  I'm thankful that I made the decision to stop before it got worse.

Habits take time to develop.  For years, I read that the magic number was 21 days of consistency.  But recently I came across a site called The Health Behavior Research Centre Blog.  They challenge that number with their own research.  They claim it takes 66 days to form a new habit.  That means performing the new behavior consistently for 66 days.

Regardless, all I can say is ...

  • Start exercising and keep doing it
  • Think of it as something you do before leaving your house, like brushing your teeth
  • Rethink your breakfast by adding fresh fruit instead of going through McDonald's
  • Learn to drink your cup of coffee black instead of adding creamers
Whatever change you are trying to make, hang in there.  It obviously takes time to establish new habits. But I do believe they are key to a healthy lifestyle.

Here's what I'm doing.  I've been consistent for the past two weeks in my exercise.  I have my exercise clothes all ready the night before.  I take my water, my Kindle and I get on my treadmill.  This works for me and is something I know I can do.  I've tried gym memberships and it doesn't work for me.  I need something easy and available first thing in the morning.  I do my treadmill for 40 minutes right now.  I started at 30 minutes but worked up.  I plan to increase my time a bit more over time.  But I get to read my Kindle Fire while I work out.  Who says they don't have time to read?

I also have my hand weights available.  I have a series of exercises I accomplish every other day.  I do 12 reps two times for each exercise.  I then use my mat and do stretching and a few Pilates moves I learned from my neighbor and exercise guru Caroline.  I'm pretty much done with it all within an hour.  My weight is down three pounds.  You might be thinking that's not much but I'm OK with that. I'd rather do slow and steady and ...be consistent.

So let's get personal.  Are there a few habits in your life that are sabotaging your success in creating a healthy lifestyle?  Have you ever tried committing to being consistent in your exercise?  Is there a new habit you'd like to create?

I'm linking up with Kim of Making 40 Fantastic for Weigh-in Wednesday.  I encourage you to visit Kim as she always has great tips.  If you're a blogger, feel free to join in and link up your post.

Blessings and love,


Laughter is the Best Medicine

Laughter is the best medicine.  When was the last time you really laughed?  You know what I'm talking about.  It's when your belly aches from laughing so hard.

I've had a few of those moments when I tried to hold it back.  I was in my cardiovascular nurse specialist course and our instructor Edie was seriously teaching.  My friend Yolanda whispered something to me and ...I couldn't hold it back.

Despite my attempts to contain myself, it wasn't happening. Thankfully, our class was small in number and even Edie ended up laughing.

Laughter is contagious!

Sometimes it happens when I'm with family.  My brother Steve has a way of reminding me of something from our childhood and laughter ensues.

Here are a few benefits of laughter:
  • Laughter relaxes your body.
  • Laughter boosts your immune system.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel good chemicals
  • Laughter increases blood flow, protecting your heart
So how can you bring more laughter into your life?

  • Watch reruns of I Love Lucy or other comedies
  • Spend time with people who are fun and laugh
  • Watch children interact with one another
  • Keep things in perspective
  • Don't take yourself so seriously
  • Smile
I'm sure you could add some of your own to this list.  Counting my blessings is also another way for me smile and laugh.  So, I'm continuing to count my every day blessings ...

#856 Hugs and smiles from the children in summer camp
#857 Observing the little ones do cannonballs into the pool
#858 Hearing squeals of laughter when I sprayed the children with the hose
#859 Listening to the children as they play with one another
#860 Watching the children play house with their dolls
#851 Doing hula dancing with the little children
#852 The sound of Sawyer laughing
#853 Observing a hummingbird in my garden
#854 A wonderful motivating sermon on being passionate about mission
#855 Ongoing growth in my walk with the Lord
#856 Keeping an eternal perspective

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

Blessings and love,

My Morning Quiet Time

My morning quiet time is something I treasure.  I spend time in God's Word.  I pray.  I listen.  I praise Him and thank Him.  It has become a constant in my life.  On the rare occasion that I miss this time, my husband will ask me if I had my quiet time.  He notices when the fruit of the Spirit isn't so evident.  I am dependent on the Lord for my daily walk.

This photo was taken when I was living in my dream home in the Biltmore.  I loved that home and was so grateful for the beautiful views of the mountains.  I no longer live there.  Instead, I have to walk to the parking lot of our condo to glimpse the mountains that once were in my backyard.  My home now is much smaller.  But I've realized that what's most important hasn't changed.

Psalm 46:1-5 says:

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day."

No matter where I live physically, God is with me.  He longs to spend time with me.  Sometimes it's so hard for me to fathom that fact.  But it's true.  And He wants to spend time with you.  Will you take some time each day and begin it with Him?  He will begin to open your eyes.  He will speak to you.  And I can tell you that over time others will notice and ...God gets all the glory.

So this is where I now get to spend my morning quiet time.  Yes the surroundings look different.  But He never changes.

I'm linking up with Barbie of My Freshly Brewed Life for The Weekend Brew.

I'm also linking up with Charlotte for Spiritual Sundays.

Blessings and love,


Have You Lost Your Wonder?

Have you lost your wonder?

Dictionary.com provides several definitions of wonder:

  1. To be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe; marvel
  2. To speculate curiously or be curious about; to be curious to know
Working with little children has awakened me to wonder.  

I watch the children become so excited when they spot a butterfly or a hummingbird.  They point and yell to the other children to come and see.

I begin to notice that it's starting to rub off on me.  I get excited when a hummingbird comes to visit my little home garden.  They love to poke their bills into my flowers.  I sit and watch and listen to the sound of their tiny wings flapping making a humming sound.

What about the stars in the sky?  Do you get excited to witness their beauty?  I remember years ago when my husband Greg and I had a place in the higher altitude of Flagstaff, Arizona.  We could see the stars so clearly and would often spot shooting stars.

I never want to lose that sense of wonder.  

Psalm 19:1-4 says:

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they reveal knowledge.  They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."

 Isaiah 55:12 says:

"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."

May I encourage you to regain that sense of wonder?  Don't be so busy that you miss out on the beauty of God's creation.  Become like little children ...

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday ~ Fall

It's Five Minute Friday when I link up with Lisa Jo of The Gypsy Mama.  Each week we receive a word prompt.  We get to write for five minutes flat on this word.  Our word for today is FALL.


Children fall.  It's a given.  A baby learns to walk.  They fall down but get right back up.  A child tries to ride a bike.  Over and over ...they fall.

But do they quit?  Do they say I'm not going to walk or I'm not going to ride a bike?  It's too hard.

No way!

They get back up again and again and again until they finally succeed.

Why can't we adults be like that?  I fall and think to myself.  I must not be very good at this so I stop trying.  I come to the place of fearing failure.  So instead what do I do?  I avoid certain things that cause me anxiety.  Or I don't complete what I started because I'm afraid I will fail and ...fall.

I want to learn to fall and pick myself back up and keep trying.

  • I'll keep on blogging even if only one person reads it
  • I'll keep on writing my book even if I have doubts as to my ability as a writer
  • I'll keep on exercising even if I don't see the weight on my scale going down as fast as I'd like
  • I'll keep on praying even if I don't see the results right now
  • I'll keep on allowing God to work in me and through me even if I don't see my loved ones change
I just may have to fall many times like a child.  But I will get back up and keep going.


Blessings and love,

photo credit: clarkmaxwell via photopin cc

Summer Fun Begins

Although my calendar says it's not officially summer, it feels like it's already here in Phoenix.  With sunny days and triple digit temperatures, what's a girl to do?

I would love to head to the beach.  After all, our school year is completed.  But instead, I get to teach summer camp to Pre-K 3 and 4 children.  Well, at least I know I will be laughing and having fun.    

I worked summer camp two years ago and enjoyed it.  That was the year I was teaching Culinary Camp.    But the students were older (1st through 4th grade level).

It worked out that Miss Annie and I will be switching jobs each week. So this next week I'll be teaching and the following week, she'll be teaching.  The weeks I don't teach, I get to work for only three hours.  But I think I will like this since I'll be able to spend those mornings working on my book.  You know, the one that was supposed to be completed by the end of the school year.  

So the beach is out for now.  However, I found this on Pinterest and ...loved it.


I continue to count my every day blessings.

#847 A fun day at The Simple Farm
#848 Experiencing the farm with my friends
#849 Wearing my hometown t-shirt and greeting Michael who is also from Lindenhurst
#850 Working on my front garden entry
#851 Getting ideas on growing herbs and vegetables
#852 Enjoying the pool at our condo knowing I don't need to take care of it
#853 The first cup of coffee in the morning
#854 Participating in an online Bible study with Good Morning Girls.
#855 Having one week of rest

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

Blessings and love,


Simple Farm Living but Please Don't Feed the Goats

The Simple Farm
What a fun Thursday morning my friends and I had visiting The Simple Farm.  It's located in the midst of a beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona neighborhood.  Every Thursday Michael and Lylah Ledner host a farmer's market from 8:30 until noon.  That's when the locals get to shop for fresh organic vegetables and herbs grown right there on the farm.  If you've not read Part 1 about my visit to The Simple Farm, you might consider reading that one first.

The goats on the farm produce milk.  I have to admit I've never tasted goat milk but I understand it's very good.  I can definitely vouch for the caramels that are made from the goat's milk though. I've tasted them and oh my; they actually melt in your mouth.  Did I mention you can order them online?

Heidi is checking out the fridge to see what's inside for sale. Everything is so fresh.  I wasn't going home right away so I didn't want to buy any perishables.

Vicki got right into the swing of things as she weighed out her potatoes and onions.  I think Theresa liked the caramels.  I bought some amazing caramel sauce and heaped a tablespoon on top of my single bon-bon after dinner.  Could that be why I'm not losing weight as fast as I'd like? :)

Laurie was deciding which jelly she preferred.  I purchased a lemon verdana jelly that was homemade on the farm.  Yum, yum.

Let me tell you about the best whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread I've ever tasted.  Carol (on the right) posed with my friend Barcia. Carol is a baker and has a brand called Grano de Vida.  I first met her when I went on Arcadia's Edible Garden Tour last month.  She offered samples of her breads and bagels and ...I loved them.  She's the nicest person and someone I know I could be friends with.  We have that heart connection through our faith.

Michael and Lylah are Christians.  It's interesting how they have returned to working the land.  I noticed a Scripture on Michael's Facebook page from 1 Thessalonians 4: 11-12:

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

Wise advice from the Apostle Paul and one we could all learn from, I believe.
I think Michael and Lylah are taking the Good Book to heart and they're doing a great job.  Take a look at the basil that grows abundantly at the farm.  I did a double take when I noticed the beautiful artichokes.  I didn't know they flowered like that, did you?  

When I posted this picture of Lylah in part one of my visit to The Simple Farm, I failed to mention that she was handing each one of us sorrel, an herb.  She had us taste it.  I can't say that I remember ever eating an herb like this but it was good.  That's Lylah.  Listen but apply.  Try new things.  Experiment with cooking.  Use fresh herbs.  I love that about her.  Going from a designer label gal to a farmer has been quite an adventure but she seems very content.

It's a bit contagious.  I'm working on my own garden and getting lots of great ideas.  I already have a basil plant and I use it when I'm cooking.

So if you live in Arizona, you must stop by and visit The Simple Farm one Thursday to see for yourself.  I would suggest checking out Lylah's blog for updates and events they host.  I know that I will be returning for sure.

Blessings and love,

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