Heart Choices: January 2014

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My Thoughts on the Grammy Awards

The 56th Annual Grammy Awards were telecast this week so I set my DVR to record.  After all, I love music.  As I began to watch, I fast forwarded through many portions.  And I must be getting old as I wasn't familiar with many of the songs that won. But then again I do tend to listen to Christian music most of the time. :)

Here are a few of my thoughts on this year's show (at least the parts I watched):
  • I love LL Cool J.  I think he's entertaining and able to laugh at himself. I'm a fan of the TV show NCIS: LA and have watched it since the beginning of the series.
  • I did not like Beyonce and her husband Jay Z's performance at all.  I think Beyonce is very talented but frankly, she showed so much more than I care to see.  I kept wondering what her parents might be thinking.  This was prime time TV so I hope children weren't watching.
  • I love Carole King.  I remember when she won best song of the year for "You've Got a Friend" in 1971. That was the year I graduated from high school after all. I know, I know ...as the kids would say "Miss Debbie, you're old". :)
  • I love the group Chicago!  Their signature sound always appealed to me. I love the brass sound and always have.  I thought they looked great and Robin Thicke did a good job performing along with them.
  • I love the Beatles!  I watched their very first US performance on the Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964.  That's the good part of being old.  I was in grade school and many of the girls began to wear black Beatle caps.  They were the rage at the time!
  • I love country music!  When my husband Greg and I had a cabin in Flagstaff, Arizona some years ago, we listened to lots of country music.  Shania Twain was a favorite of ours.  Many of the singers have changed a bit but some remain and I love hearing them.  I loved the number with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and Blake Shelton. And I love to watch Blake on The Voice!
  • I love Michael Buble!  I don't know if I fast forwarded and missed when they called his name but I read that he won for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for "To Be Loved".  He's in a class all his own.
  • I was so glad that Mandisa won for Best Christian album for Overcomer. Her video for the song is so inspiring.

Mandisa wasn't present in the audience to accept her award.  I read her post about her reasons and totally understand.  I read that Natalie Grant left the ceremony early as many of the performances were offensive.

Frankly, I think our culture is heading in the wrong direction.

How about you?  What are your thoughts on the Grammy's?  Did you watch them or not?

Blessings and love,


Are You Growing Up?

Are you growing up?  Recently I gathered a few of my after school students and showed them photos from the previous year.  They laughed and pointed as they noticed how little they once looked.  They had grown in so many ways and it was obvious.

But how about spiritual growth?  It's not measured the same way.  You can't look at a photo to see the changes.

A Christian's salvation is a work of God alone.  We are saved by grace alone. There's nothing we can do to earn it.  It is a gift of God.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works so that no one can boast.

Christian growth is a call to labor.  In Philippians 2:12, Paul is addressing the church at Philippi.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed - not only in my presence, but now much  more in my absence - continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

To continue reading, link over to Laced with Grace.

Blessings and love,


What is Beauty?

What is beauty?  I've heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  The online dictionary defines beauty as:

  • The quality of being physically attractive
  • The qualities in a person or thing that give pleasure to the senses or the mind
  • A beautiful woman
And then I turn in my Bible to 1 Peter 3:3-4 and read about beauty.
    Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 
I know I receive mixed messages about beauty. The world celebrates youth and beauty. Yes, I was once young and enjoyed that time in my life. But now I'm getting older.  So how do I view beauty?

I have to laugh as the children I spend my day with at work speak very openly and bluntly.  Only yesterday, one little girl was touching the skin on my arm and said "Miss Debbie, you're old!"  I had to chuckle and replied "Yes Miss Debbie is old".  I then added "Enjoy your beautiful skin while you're young because it doesn't last forever".  She looked back at me with a quizzical look on her face.

As I consider beauty, I'm discovering that there's something beautiful about a person who reflects the Biblical passage in 1 Peter.  A gentle and quiet spirit isn't the norm today.  People want to be noticed.  We broadcast our daily activities on Facebook.  But what about the needs that go unnoticed?  The hurts and not so pretty days when life seems to be so hard.  I believe all of us have experienced days like that.

I think of some of the beautiful women who have come alongside me through the years.  Two of them are now gone from this earth and are in heaven.

Susie was my children's supervisor when I was a children's leader in Bible Study Fellowship for seven years.  She also mentored me one on one.  Susie is beautiful.

Georgia was a woman who exemplified the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. She suffered physically and died at a much too young age.  But she impacted me greatly as she was the one who encouraged me to study the Bible in depth for myself.  She taught me to SOAP the Scriptures during my quiet time.  (Scripture, observation, application, prayer)

As I consider beauty, what also comes to my mind is the beauty of God's creation. I've been trying to live with more of an awareness of my surroundings. The children teach me too as I notice their excitement upon discovering new things.  As I'm on the lookout for those every day blessings, my perspective has been slowly changing.

How about you?  How do you define beauty?  Are you focused on the world's definition of beauty?  Are your eyes being opened more to the beauty of God's creation in nature and people?

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

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday: Encouragement

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: ENCOURAGEMENT.


What does encouragement feel like?  I find it comes in many different ways.

  • A thumbs up for a job well done
  • A hug when I most need it
  • A kind word
  • A friend who prays with me
  • A written note with words of kindness
  • A comment after writing a blog post
  • Hearing the voice of my dad on the phone
  • A personal email from a blog friend I've never met
  • The voices of little children calling Miss Debbie
  • Watching four year olds play 'teacher' 
I've received encouragement from others. And I love to encourage others.  I pray that Heart Choices is a place people come to receive a word of encouragement.

Words matter.  It often seems the ones that stick aren't always words of encouragement.  I try to keep that in mind as I interact with both adults and children.

I remember the words of my pastor some years ago. We were asked to greet one another and welcome any who were new.  Often people go through the cursory 'hi' and sit down.  However, he shared a story of an older woman who once told him the only hug she receives each week is at church. I want to remember that and be mindful.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

New International Version (NIV)
11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.


Blessings and love,


Have You Lost Your Wonder?

Have you lost your sense of wonder?  The Merriam Webster dictionary defines wonder as a cause of astonishment or admiration, the quality of exciting amazed admiration and rapt attention at something awesomely mysterious or new to one's experience. So I ask you again.  Have you lost your wonder?

I work with little children.  Three and four year old children are filled with a sense of wonder. Everything is new to them. I love to watch the look of excitement in their eyes as they observe a bird or a flower that has bloomed. The simple every day things we take for granted are viewed so differently through their eyes.

To continue reading please go to Laced with Grace.

Blessings and love,


New Year Blessings Continue

It's a new year and I continue to count my every day blessings.  When I'm on the lookout for those blessings, my perspective changes.  I focus on what is good.

Philippians 4:8 says:
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

I've passed the #1,000 blessing mark and I want to keep going.

Was I in the movie "Frozen"?  No, but I was so excited when Greg agreed to go with me to see the movie.  I wanted to see this movie as most of the children in our preschool class have been talking about it.  My after school class of four and five year old children even act out the scenes on the playground and know many of the words to the songs.  I hear "Do you want to build a snowman?" from sweet little voices.  So of course, I wanted to see it for myself.

I was also very excited that the scenery was ...Norway, the land of my ancestors.  I even entered a Disney contest to win a trip to Norway.  That's why my Viking photo is inserted into the Frozen frame.

I'm back at school after a two week vacation.  How fun to work at a school and have that time off.  As a nurse, you have to work many holidays.  On our first day back, the children were entertained by a puppet show. How fun to watch their faces and see them transfixed as they watched the puppets interact. They were invited to sing along if they knew the songs.  Of course, they did!

Did I mention that I love children?  Three year old Brody was making believe he was a bumble bee. He kept making a buzzing sound around my face and I pretended to be scared.  He looked at me and said, "Miss Debbie, it's me; Brody". I had to laugh as kids say the cutest things.

#1013 The cute sayings of little children
#1014 The excitement and wonder of new things
#1015  Seeing "Frozen" the movie
#1016  Red geraniums blooming in my window box
#1017  Beautiful weather in Phoenix in the middle of winter
#1018  Using a few gift cards I received for Christmas
#1019  Spending my two weeks off with Greg

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

Blessings and love,


My One Word for 2014

For the past few years, I've selected one word for each year.  Here's my list from the past few years:

  • 2011: TRUST
  • 2012: ADVENTURE
  • 2013: SURRENDER
After much prayer, my one word for 2014 is LOVE.  As I've learned (and continue to learn) to trust the Lord, I embark on an adventure with Him.  I don't always know where we're going but I'm learning to trust Him. Along the way, I've been learning to surrender it all to Him. After all, He loves me and has amazing plans for me. I'm a work in progress.  But through it all, He is changing me and for that I am so thankful.

As I read the Scriptures, I see an overall theme of love.  God created us in His image to be in relationship with Him.  Then Adam and Eve sinned.  That perfect order was disrupted as God cannot come into the presence of sin. But in His love, He already had a plan. Jesus, the Messiah, came into the world and lived a perfect life.  He paid the price for my sins when He died on the cross.  He was resurrected and now lives, interceding for me at the right hand of God, the Father (Romans 8:34). Now that is LOVE!

As my vertical relationship with God is right, my horizontal relationship with others begins to change. After all, He is working within me and transforming me as I cooperate with Him.

How thankful I am to be working with little children. So many spiritual truths are played out right before my eyes every day.  They teach me so much about life and love.

The Scriptures have much to say about faith and children:

"He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me." ~Matthew 18:2-5

"People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them." ~Mark 10:13-16

Children are teachable.  They are like little sponges as they learn about life and relationships.  I want to be teachable.  After all, I don't know it all.  I want to be a life long learner.

My prayer for 2014 is that my cup will overflow with the love of Jesus towards others.  I don't always agree with everyone but I want to respond with respect and love and not anger and hatred.

"Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." ~ Ephesians 5:1-2

So how about you?  Have you chosen your one word for 2014? I'd love to hear about your word.

I'm linking up with Bonnie of Faith Barista for One Word for 2014 Jam.

I'm also linking up with One Word 365 as we share our one word for 2014.

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday: See

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

Look at me.  I have something to tell you.  That is what I hear every day as I work with a classroom filled with three and four year old children.  There are times when I've had a child touch my face with their hands to turn my face towards them. They want the attention as they have something to say.  See me!

There are times in my own life when I pray and pray but feel like I'm not receiving answers.  For a moment I wonder ...do you hear me Lord?

I've been reading the Bible in one year on an app I loaded to my Kindle. In Genesis 16, there is an account of Hagar.  Abraham had a son with her when his wife Sarah seemed to be unable to conceive.  Of course, it was another example of not waiting on God's perfect timing.  But Hagar was forced to leave with her son Ismael as Sarah wasn't happy with their treatment of her son Isaac.  That's the story in a nutshell.  But what stood out to me was that God saw Hagar and her son and knew what was happening. He provided for them.  He is El Roi; the God who sees.

What a beautiful reminder for me.  He sees me.  He knows all that is going on in my life.

As I returned to work after a two week break, I was walking from the parking lot to our classroom. I suddenly heard a voice yell out "Miss Debbie".  I looked up to see the head of four year old Hilton sticking out of the back window of her mom's car.  I yelled "Happy New Year" back to her.  But I had to laugh.  God sees me and knew just what I needed to start my day.  :)


Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday: Fight

It's Five Minute Friday when I link up with The Gypsy Mama.  Yes, I know I'm a day late but I got out of my blogging rhythm with the holidays.  So better late than never!

We receive a one word prompt and get to write for five minutes flat. It's been such a good writing exercise for me so I didn't want to miss out. Our word for this week is: FIGHT.


Competition can be a good thing and a bad thing.  For me, it tends to spur me on when I become a bit lazy. After all, I don't want to be left in the dust.  My flesh rears its head.  Give me a good old fashioned arm wrestle with my sister-in-law Amy and ...I'm in!

But when I consider spiritual gifts I realize there's no competition.  As Christians, we have each been given gifts.  I may not have the gift of singing beautifully but I can offer the gift of a listening ear.  Instead of envying another for their gift, I want to embrace the gifts I've been given and use them for God's glory.

We are in a fight; a battle.  Let us not fight one another but use our gifts to love one another and spread that love.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.  Ephesians 6:12


Blessings and love,

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