Heart Choices: October 2013

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It's Time to Take Charge of Your Health

Photo Credit: C. Swain
It's time to take charge of your health!  For this week's Weigh-In Wednesday post, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you about the direction our country seems to be taking with healthcare.  Unless you've been living under a rock this past week, you've read the news and seen the television reports about Obamacare.

So many people are losing their current health insurance.  I'm very thankful that for now I have insurance coverage through my workplace.  But a few years ago, I may have been in the same situation.  So my overall message for this post is:

...now is the time to start taking care of your health.

Working as a nurse for 25 years, I witnessed first hand the consequences of not taking care of your health. Although there are many diseases and illnesses that aren't preventable, there are so many that can be avoided.  Being overweight has consequences that include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms but once a person is placed on medications side effects may cause them to feel worse.

So start exercising and watch what you eat.

When you're young, it's easy to not think about the future.  After all, you can get by with years of junk food and not exercising but believe me ...it catches up to you eventually. I want to do all I can to avoid developing a chronic health problem requiring ongoing doctor visits.

In order to stick with my program of daily exercise and eating healthy, I returned to an online app I almost forgot about.  It's called MyFitnessPal and is a place where I can record my weight and goals.  You add everything you eat and calculates calories and any exercise I do for the day.  It's a good reminder to drink water each day.  And many of my friends from our private Facebook group are now logged on too. So this is another way to be held accountable and to receive some support and encouragement along this journey to healthy living.

So now is the time to get your head out of the sand and ...take action.

  • Go for a walk
  • Attend an exercise class
  • Dig out those exercise DVD's
  • Dust off your exercise equipment
  • Drink water
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
You can do it; yes you can!  One step at a time and now is the time to begin.

I'm linking up with Kim of Just For Clicks Blog for Weigh-In Wednesday.

Blessings and love,


God Knows My Name

God knows my name.  And He knows your name too. I'd venture to say that most of us want to be known. We want to be loved and accepted.

But the messages we hear from childhood often create an image in our head about us. If you were teased or told you were fat or not pretty, this can stick with you all of your life.  The world seems to love youth and beauty.  If you don't fit that mold, the message can be interpreted as you don't fit in or are less than.

I am a part of a private Facebook group of women who are striving to live a healthy lifestyle. Some are working on losing weight.  Some are trying to eat healthy.  Some are trying to make exercise a lifelong habit.  Yesterday I read a few stories of women who were made fun of as a child, being the 'fat' girl at school. To this day, they still carry that label even though they are no longer 'fat'.

In our preschool class we try to teach the children that we are all made differently.  Some children are tall. Our skin colors are different. Some children are dark while others are light. Heidi and I always emphasize that it's OK to be different from one another. Of course, we always add that 'we're all friends'.  We watch for those who are sidelined and not included. Life can be challenging even at such a young age.

I applaud Dove for their beauty campaigns.  This video is only 3 minutes long and well worth taking the time to view.  If you can't view this video, try clicking here.

We need to appreciate our natural beauty, no matter what stage of life we're in. As I'm getting older, I tend to focus on the lines on my face that seem magnified in my mirror.  It takes so much more work to keep my weight down than it did when I was younger.  Then I glance at the vinyl lettering decal I place on my bathroom wall as a reminder before I head out the door to work.
I remember Psalm 139:13-14:

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

I am linking up with Kim of Just For Clicks Blog for Weigh-In Wednesday.

Blessings and love,


Don't Give Up on Prayer

Prayer is powerful. Never give up on prayer.  I've heard many anxious parents and grandparents talk about loved ones who aren't living for the Lord.  Most of the children were raised going to church every Sunday. They heard all about Jesus and their need for salvation.  Some of them may have walked an aisle and prayed a prayer.  Some were baptized.  But at this time, they were living in rebellion and doing their own thing.

To continue reading, please link over to Laced with Grace .

Blessings and love,


Blessing #1000

I've been on a journey of counting my every day blessings.  Today I reached my #1,000 blessing.  So what's so special that I would write an entire blog post about it?  It's the blessing of ...you.

You who read Heart Choices.  I know some of you don't add your comments but I know you read it.  I've received private emails so I know.

I began blogging in 2007.  I really started to find my voice about 2010.  As I looked back over the posts I've written, I see a recurring theme.  I love to encourage and inspire others.  I am so grateful for all I have been given in this life. I've enjoyed much prosperity and then not so much.  In the process of releasing many material possessions, I've learned what matters most.

The relationships and people in my life are what's important.  And what binds them all together is my faith.  It is woven into all that I write on Heart Choices.

I am so grateful for the blogging relationships that have developed over these past six years.  Sonja of bits and pieces is like a sister to me.  Our hearts were knit together with our common Norwegian heritage and our love for Jesus.  She continues to be an inspiration to me.  Felisol of On the Far Side of the Sea was another Norwegian sister I came to know and love through our blogs.

I've had the pleasure of meeting many bloggers over the years.  Although this list isn't complete, here are a few of my favorite bloggers I had the pleasure of meeting in person:
  • Lisa of Lisa Shaw Cares is the most loving, kind and giving friend.     
  • Kathleen of Sassy Granny and I spent many a day together.  She used to live in Arizona after all.
  • Mary of Pile of Smiles is such an encourager.
  • Charlotte of Charlotte's Weblog and hostess of Spiritual Sundays is now a friend.  
  • Iris of Grace Alone and Laced with Grace  has become a good friend.
  • Lori of Lori's Reflections was there from the beginning of my blogging.
  • Sarah Dawn of Splashin' Glory is a sweet young mother who moved back to Arizona from the mission field. 
  • Denise of Refine Me was visiting the Phoenix area so I had the pleasure of dining with her.
  • Barbie of My Freshly Brewed Life was visiting friends in town so I got to meet her in person for coffee (of course) and conversation.
I've made many friends from all over the world through blogging.  I think of Lidia of Crown of Beauty who lives in the Philippines.  Debbie of The Way We Are  is from California and Janette of  Janette's Sage is from Texas.  I know I'm missing many of my blogging friends but this post would go on and on.

But the message I want to share is how thankful I am for you all.  You have blessed me with your comments, your love and your support.  I hope to continue to blog for many years to come.

As you know, I link up with Ann of A Holy Experience for Multitudes on Mondays as I count my every day blessings.

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday: Laundry

It's Five Minute Friday when I link up with The Gypsy Mama. We receive a one word writing prompt and get to write for five minutes flat. Our word for this week is: LAUNDRY.

Laundry seems like such a chore. Every week for years I've done laundry.  What I've discovered though is ...it's all about attitude.

When I was a young bride, I used to walk to the laundromat with my cart on wheels.  The guy who owned the place used to tell me he never saw anyone enjoy doing laundry.

Through the years, I continue to do my laundry.  I love the smell of freshly laundered clothes.  Instead of mindlessly doing a mundane chore, I find I enjoy completing this weekly task.  Maybe that's part of the secret of not minding laundry. I only have to do it once a week.  :)

But I also remind myself that whatever I do ...do it as unto the Lord.

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." ~Colossians 3:17


Blessings and love,


Why I Will Never Stop Striving Towards a Healthy Lifestyle

I will never give up!
I will never stop striving towards a healthy lifestyle.  I refuse to give up!  Yes, my sneakers may be wearing out.  But I still have my treadmill and my weights. And I have a good mind.  I am determined.

When I was a teenager, I was active and always moving.  My Aunt Ruth taught me how to twirl as a young girl. So I was very excited when I made my high school's twirling team and eventually became the captain for two years.  I was determined to do a good job so I found a summer twirling camp in upstate New York so I could learn more.  I have to say I was very intimidated since I knew nobody.  My bunk mates were state champions in the National Baton Twirlers Association.  But I learned so much and was able to share what I learned with the other twirlers on our team.

  • I am a nurse.  When I graduated from nursing school, I was amazed at how much chronic illness was caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. Talk about the cost of healthcare. It's only become worse over the years.

  • I have a family history of heart disease.  My grandfather died at the age of 70 of a sudden heart attack.  My dad suffered a heart attack when he was in his early 60's.  He is still living but has endured numerous heart procedures.  He has an implantable defibrillator and pacemaker but keeps on ...walking and living his life.  Way to go Dad!

Norwegian waffles

  • I enjoy good food.  There are a few Norwegian recipes that I continue to make and enjoy from time to time.  They are a part of my heritage and I enjoy eating them ...in moderation.

  • I want to have energy. I know that if I stop exercising for any length of time I will lose what I've gained over the years.  As we age, we lose muscle.  I don't want to become weak and be susceptible to falls.  After all, I'm not getting any younger.  I have to keep up with a classroom of 3 and 4 year old children.  And believe me, they are quite active.

  • I want to age gracefully.  I'm not trying to act like I'm 30 years younger than my actual age. But I enjoy looking good and fitting into my clothes well.  I enjoy working with younger healthy women.  They help to keep me continuously striving to be active.
  • I recognize who I belong to.  The Bible tells me as a Christian my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  I was bought with a price so I will honor God by taking care of my body.  After all, I want to be used by Him for His purposes.  

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

English Standard Version (ESV)
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

So I will continue to strive towards a healthy lifestyle as long as I live.  And along the way, I hope to inspire and encourage you to join me in this journey.

I'm linking up with Kim of Just For Clicks for Weigh-In Wednesday.

Blessings and love,


Who I Am In Christ

There seems to be much emphasis today on self-esteem.  But I want to tell you about God esteem. According to the world's standards, I may seem to be a good person.  I don't break the law (except for the occasional speeding but only when I'm late).  I try to be kind. But all of my good deeds are not enough.

God is holy and cannot come into the presence of sin. Sin isn't a popular word these days.  But Paul writes in Romans 3:23:

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

That means you and me.  Jesus came to earth and led a perfectly righteous life. He never sinned.  His death and resurrection enables me to receive His life in me so I can come before the Father.  I can have peace with God.  I am free from sin and death.

So I can be confident in who I am in Christ.

Day by day, I'm learning to abide in His presence.

Day by day, He changes my heart's desires.

Day by day, He draws me closer to Him as I read His Word.

As I count my every day blessings, I'm so thankful for His presence in my life.  I get to live my life sharing His love with others.

I had to include this photo of little Lizzie enjoying her peanut butter at school.  I can't help but think how fun it would be to not care what others think.  I somehow think that peanut butter would taste even better! :)

#985 The reality of who I am in Christ
#986 Fun with good friends
#987 A long restful weekend
#988 Being spoiled by my husband
#989 Watching Alaska: The Last Frontier on Discovery with Greg
#990 Relief from my joint pains
#991 Getting back into my exercise routine
#992 Recognizing that my gift is one of encouragement to others
#993 More time to write on this four day weekend
#994 Flowers that are blooming in my front entryway
#995 Amazingly beautiful weather in Phoenix
#996 Norwegian waffles that I made this weekend
#997 Experimenting with Picmonkey for my photos
#998 Brunch with my friends at Chompie's Deli
#999 Almost reaching #1000 which I'll save for next week

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

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday: Ordinary

It's Five Minute Friday when I link up with The Gypsy Mama.  We receive a one word writing prompt and get to write for five minutes flat.  Our word for this week is: ORDINARY.


She wanted to be ordinary.  She didn't like feeling different.  She wanted to fit in with the other kids.  She felt embarrassed getting picked up at her house by the disability bus.  She wanted to walk to school with her friends.  Because she was always getting sick, she wore leggings to cover her bare legs when girls were required to wear dresses to school.  It was cold in the middle of Long Island winters.  The teacher was kind enough to let her come into the classroom early so she could remove them to be like the other girls.

After her open heart surgery, she lost no time catching up.  Running fast, walking to school, enjoying life.

She dreamed of an ordinary life; marriage, children, white picket fence.  She loved to watch TV shows like The Walton's.

Her life has been anything but ordinary.  The ups and downs, the good and bad times.  Anything but ordinary.

She remembers she is loved by an extraordinary God. One who chose her.  One who created her for His purposes.  And so she surrenders to His will for her life which in His eyes is ...anything but ordinary.


Blessings and love,


Let's Get Physical

Let's get physical!  When I hear those words I instantly have the image of Olivia Newton John in my head.  Do you remember the chorus?

Let's get physical, physical
I wanna get physical
Let me hear your body talk, your body talk
Let me hear your body talk.

There is something to be said for getting physical. When I was young, I used to love to run everywhere. Walking to school in the rain and snow for three miles (well maybe just one mile) was just something I did.  I loved to ride my bike everywhere, especially before I had a driver's license.

But what happens when we get a bit older?

People seem to slow down.  After all, sitting at a desk in front of a computer is pretty sedentary.  Walking to the parking lot to get into my car isn't the best form of exercise.  And then when you lift your arm and a little child starts to touch that extra skin that seems to hang just a little bit.  Well, that's enough for me to grab my weights and ...get physical.

For this Weigh-In Wednesday post, I want to mention the importance of weights. I always stress aerobic exercise which is vital to improving endurance and burning calories to lose weight.  But I also use light weights every other day.

I was reviewing a book I read some years ago called Successful Aging by John W. Rowe, MD and Robert L. Kahn, PhD.  This was a MacArthur Foundation Study that showed how the lifestyle choices you  make (more than heredity) determine your health and vitality.  

Here are a few quotes from this book:
  • Pumping iron can help you lose weight.  People commonly think that only aerobic exercise has this important effect.  But science has shown that by turning up the metabolism of muscles you burn more calories.  And that translates into lost weight.
  • Weight training can make a meaningful difference in the lives of older people.  After just three months of training, older men doubled the strength of their quads and tripled the power of their hamstrings.  The muscles got bigger and stronger.
  • Weight lifting can reduce depression in older people.
Now maybe you don't consider yourself to be in the older category of life.  But developing good habits when you're younger will improve the odds of you continuing this into your older age.  And you will feel more energetic too!

So what do I do?
  • I walk on my treadmill almost every day.  (I pulled my back last week so I'm slowly getting back to this).
  • I use light weights every other day.  I do a series of two sets of 15 repetitions.  I learned a routine when I was at the Pritikin center in Santa Monica some years ago and have stuck with it.  Lately, I've found I can increase the weights as it got easier.
  • Stretching is a must as I realize I'm not that flexible.  If you don't use it, you lose it.
So, I hope you will feel encouraged to start getting physical.  The weather in Phoenix is beautiful right now.  It's the perfect time of year for a walk, a hike or a bicycle ride.  Do an activity as a family.  Teach your children and grandchildren good habits that will last for a lifetime.

I'm linking up with Kim of Just For Clicks for Weigh-In Wednesday.

Blessings and love,


Are You a Bucket Filler?

Are you a bucket filler?  Did you know that the way you relate to others impacts your life and the lives of those around you?

Working with little children in Pre-K 3 teaches me much about life.  You see, 3 and 4 year old children tend to think the world revolves around them.  I guess some never grow out of this.  :)

Heidi and I began to teach the children about filling each other's bucket.  There are several books that help.  We used "How Full is Your Bucket?" by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer.  It encourages positive behavior as children learn to express kindness to one another.

When they share toys, use kind words or use good manners, we tell them they are filling other's buckets. And the best part of it is at the same time they also fill their own.
They're in the process of learning so continual reinforcement is required. When we go out to the playground, we always remind them to fill each other's buckets.

I have an after school class and many of the four year old children were in our class last year.  So they know all about filling buckets.  Occasionally they will say "I love you Miss Debbie" adding that they are filling my bucket and ...theirs.  I tell them I love them too.  But I also add that my bucket will really be filled if they listen. :)

I found this bucket song on YouTube. It's really a cute song and not too long.

If you receive my posts in email and can't view the video, click here.

Since I choose to be a bucket filler and not a bucket dipper, I continue to count my every day blessings.

#974 Confirmation of the importance of having an attitude of gratitude in our Sunday sermon
#975 The reminder that peace is found in a person (Jesus) and not in pleasant circumstances.
#976 Laughing with the children every day
#977 The cutest photos of my after school class of four year old children
#978 Hearing my dad's voice on the phone
#979 My husband surprised me with breakfast in bed two times this past week
#980 My husband rubs Bengay on my back each morning and evening since I pulled my back
#981 A four day work week coming up this week and next
#982 Cooler weather in Phoenix ...at last
#983 A long phone conversation with my good friend Jean who lives in Florida
#984 My outside flowers in the entry are doing so much better with cooler weather

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

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday: Write

It's Five Minute Friday when I link up with The Gypsy Mama. We receive a one word writing prompt and get to write for five minutes flat. Our word for this week is WRITE.


I love to write.  I can trace it all the way back to elementary school.  I loved to read so writing just seemed to be the natural extension.  I had the opportunity to go to a creative writing class during the summer after fifth grade.  Each day we wrote stories and shared them in front of the class.  Mr. Yocum would critique us.  I discovered that I loved it ...

I began to journal on a consistent basis on January 1, 1994.  That was the day my Nana died.  I wrote about her homecoming.  As I look back over my many journals, I read true stories of joy, heartache, and pain.  I recorded my thoughts and feelings over the years.

But the pattern I see over and over is the God who loves me.  You see, He was there when I was hurt and I held it in and refused to cry.  He was there when I rebelled and did my own thing.  He was there when I was burdened.  He was there to bring joy to my heart no matter what was going on in my life.

I continue to write in my journals.  But for years now I've been blogging. I get to write and share with many people I've never met.  My writing has opened up new relationships with other bloggers.  I'm discovering my voice.  So I continue to write.


Blessings and love,


Stay Healthy and Enjoy the Journey

Life is a journey.  But much too often I find myself on autopilot.  I'm checking off items on my to-do list but not taking the time to stop and enjoy the moments.

To-do list:

  • Exercise on treadmill
  • Drink lots of water
  • Stretch
  • Free weights
  • Morning quiet time
  • Writing
  • Get ready for work and get there on time

I want to get back in great shape. You see, I know what it feels like:

  • to have lots of energy
  • to have clothes that fit well 
  • to get dressed once and not have to go back to the closet and change after catching a glimpse in the mirror
  • to not focus so much on food and exercise
I want a healthy lifestyle to simply be a part of my every day life.  

I have a lot of living to do.  And I don't want to miss out.  I want to stop and smell the roses.
I used to teach heart patients ways to stay healthy and prevent future problems. Diet, exercise, keeping track of their cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. But I wanted to know what pushed their buttons.  What would motivate them to start to take better care of themselves and live a healthier lifestyle.

So I conducted a research project in the Cardiology practice where I was working.  I had the patients fill out a form to find out what they were most afraid of. Many had been close to death after all.  The results were a little bit surprising to me.

They were afraid of losing their independence.  

They wanted to be able to do the things that were important to them whether that was golfing, working in their career or simply playing and keeping up with their grandchildren.

So for today, I make the choice to exercise and eat healthy.  As time goes on, I discover that it has become a habit.  So I don't have to think about it and focus so much on it.  It's simply a part of my every day life.  I want to be able to do the things that are important to me too.  How about you?

I'm linking up with Kim of Just for Clicks for Weigh-In Wednesday.

Blessings and love,

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