Heart Choices: March 2014

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Spring Break Blessings

Spring break was a week of fun and family this year. It's been much too long since I last had the opportunity to fly to Florida.  Although I grew up on Long Island, New York, most of my immediate family now lives in Florida. 

This is my family!  My dad, me, my sister Christine and my brother Steve. The only original member missing is my mom who died in 2005. We all miss her so much and have so many memories we share.

Our family has grown.  My brother and his wife have two grown daughters; Kristin and Katie. My sister and her husband have two grown sons; Taylor and Zachary. Everyone lives in Florida now except Katie and Aunt Debbie.

As I was wheeling my suitcase into the guest room, my jaw dropped when I saw this lovely face.  Katie had surprised me and flown down from New York City to see me.  What a joy!  

And take a look at this little cutie! Kristin and her husband Kevin's almost two year old daughter Kenzie. I only wish my mom would have lived to see her.  She would have loved her.  As Kenzie was playing with sidewalk chalk, I snapped this photo with a memorial to my mom in the background.  One day ...

I hope you don't mind a few photos I wanted to share with you. :)

Kristin and Kenzie
Kenzie and my brother, her grandpa
My sister Christine, Dad and me
I loved spending time with my family. I felt so refreshed returning to Phoenix. It was just what I needed at this time.  Today I return to work and the little children and ...I'm ready.

I am counting my every day blessings:

#1049 Fun family time
#1050 Getting to know Kenzie
#1051 A surprise visit by Katie
#1052 Quality time with my dad
#1053 Walking the beach 
#1054 Putting my feet in the water
#1055 A time of rest and relaxation
#1056 A safe trip back to Phoenix
#1057 Several days with my husband before returning to work

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

Blessings and love,


Knowing When to Stay and When to Move

Stay, go, stay, go. What to do?  Sometimes I wish it would be more obvious.  I think of the Israelites in the wilderness with Moses.  They were guided by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. (Exodus 13:21)

Seems easy enough.  When the cloud stopped, they stopped.  But we know how they didn't always listen and obey.

I realize I have a guide too.  It might not be an obvious sign in the sky kind of thing. But my Bible is the Word of God and there's plenty of guidance for me.

Sometimes I am called to stay in situations that my human flesh wants to rebel against.  But over the years, I've discovered something.  Often when I'm ready to bolt and do my own thing, it's because I dislike temporary discomfort.  With hindsight, I can look back and see how the Lord was preparing me for something up ahead.  All too often I had my eyes on what I wanted instead of keeping my eyes on Jesus.

I remember serving as a children's leader in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). At the end of each year we were asked if we would continue in this position.  I remember thinking why would I ever leave since I loved it so. I stayed for seven years.

But I have to say that when the time came for me to leave it was obvious.  I knew it in my heart.  It was a season in my life and the Lord had other plans for me. The experience I gained during this time was invaluable to me in my future. But I didn't know that at the time.

Now I'm working in a school with preschool children. The seven years of weekly training in BSF helped me learn much about discipline and positive ways to interact with young children.

I think of Jesus walking this earth in a human body and yet fully divine. He knew what was ahead and the path He would need to take.

And going a little further He fell on His face and prayed, saying "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." Matthew 26:39 (ESV)

Jesus submitted to the will of His Father. Even though the path ahead would be painful, He obeyed perfectly.

I would rather say yes to God's best for me than say yes to many good things I think I can do for God.

So I pray about when to stay and when to move.

How about you?  How do you know when to stay and when to move?

I'm linking up with Bonnie of Faith Barista for her Faith Jam series leading up to Easter.

Blessings and love,


Focus on the Every Day Blessings

Focus on the every day blessings.  That's become my motto.  I have to admit it's been a difficult and challenging week for me.  I've had my moments. Those pity party moments.  Come on.  Do you ever have those?

But ...I refuse to stay there.  So I make the choice to deal with the life situations in the best way I can with much prayer.  And I move forward.

One of my blessings is I get to work with Heidi every day. We work so well together and make such a great team.  She researches all of the holidays and writes them on our board in the teacher's lounge.  The other day was Happy Name Tag Day so of course we both wore a name tag. :)

I told her about a blogger named Scott who is known as The Name Tag Guy.  My husband Greg attended a conference a few years ago and he was a speaker. He's been wearing his name tag for 4,885 days so far. That's quite a record.  I have to admit I discarded mine by the end of the day. But Scott Ginsberg has made quite a name for himself and has so many funny stories to share as he wears a name tag every single day.

Another blessing I'm thankful for is our fabulous weather in Phoenix this time of year.  While the rest of the country has snow and cold, we're experiencing 75 degrees.  It's perfect for walks and hiking and biking. It's great to see people enjoying the outdoors.

Everything seems to be in bloom.  I love to visit the nurseries to check out the flowers. I'm looking for some additional flowers to plant.  My red geraniums are still going strong in our window box. They look so pretty right now.

There are always every day blessings working with little children.  The other day I wore a colorful skirt to work.  The children all told me how pretty I looked. I'm amazed they even noticed.  But then they tend to pick up my skirt which is a no no.  They may wear little shorts underneath their skirts but ...not Miss Debbie.

I also bought some Jamberry Nails from my niece Kristin. They are bright pink and the kids loved them. So funny what they notice!  By the way, these nails are so much fun and they don't use chemicals or damage your nails.  You have to check out Kristin's website.  And they aren't very expensive and lasts for several weeks.
We have a fabulous science teacher named Mrs. Baer. She taught the children about the life cycle of a caterpillar.
The children enjoyed gluing pieces of dried macaronis to represent the eggs, worm, chrysalis, and finally ...the butterfly.  They are getting so smart!

I'm almost forgetting that I had a very stressful week. Changing my focus makes all the difference.
#1039 A fabulous co-worker named Heidi
#1040 The look on the faces of the children when they learn new things
#1041 The amazing weather in Phoenix
#1042 Beautiful flowers all over town
#1043 An opportunity to share my story on Women Walking with Jesus
#1044 Jamberry nails that don't ruin my nails
#1045 Connecting with the grandson of the pastor who married my parents in Brooklyn, NY in 1950 through Facebook
#1046 Remembering to focus on the Word
#1047 A wonderful sermon in church this morning
#1048 Bluegrass music in church last week as we had a church wide picnic

I'm linking up with Charlotte for Spiritual Sundays.

Spiritual Sundays

I'm also linking up with Ann of A Holy Experience for Multitudes on Mondays as we continue to count our every day blessings.

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday: Crowd

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 today is CROWD.


A sea of faces surrounds me.  All dressed in blue uniforms.  It's a crowd of amazing children who are students at our school.  Each one is unique.  I scan the crowd as I prepare to take photos.  I am greeted by waves and smiles and "Hi Miss Debbie".  I recognize faces of children who were in our Pre-K 3 Class several years ago.  They may have grown but I still see the sweet face of a precious child.

I wonder how they will choose to distinguish themselves from the crowd as they grow and get older.  Momentarily, I consider the choices I've made in my life to get to this place.

Life happens.  Some things we can control. Other things are outside of our control. I still believe that it's our response to the circumstances in our lives that makes the difference.  One person will be defeated and devastated by loss and failure. Another will be energized and motivated to continue to pursue their dreams.

What choices have you made?  What do you hope to teach your children?  Will you stand out from the crowd and choose to make a difference in someone else's life?

I do believe even the small things make a difference.


Blessings and love,


Learning to Walk with Jesus

Learning to walk with Jesus is a life time pursuit.

I was seven years old when I first acknowledged I was a sinner and in need of a Savior.  The pastor's wife had taken me for a drive to talk to me privately since I was about to undergo a major risky heart operation for a congenital heart defect. She shared how Jesus died for my sins and how much He loved me.  In my little girl's mind I still remember how much I wanted forgiveness and to receive Him into my heart. And so I prayed ...

I survived the surgery and my family praised and thanked God for answers to their prayers. Life continued and I was thankful that I had a ticket to heaven for when I died.

Since I'd been sidelined for the first seven years of my life, I made up for lost time.  I was determined to run faster, play harder and enjoy the life I felt I'd missed. My family changed churches and my siblings and I were sent to a variety of Sunday Schools over the years.  I'd pray and memorize Bible verses from time to time but there was no consistency. My grandparents were a wonderful example and whenever they had the opportunity would take me to Vacation Bible School during the summers at their church.  I remember seeing my grandfather sitting in his chair with his large Bible each morning and evening as he studied and prayed.

To continue reading, please go to Lisa Shaw's Women Walking With Jesus.

Blessings and love,


Are You Restless?

Are you restless?  Does life seem to be going by so fast that you feel like you can't take a moment to catch your breath?

I've been reading a book by Jennie Allen called Restless: Because You Were Made For More.  It's about living the life we were created to live.  Jennie goes through a process of identifying the threads of our life and weaving them together.  Those threads often involve pain and suffering.  Since God is sovereign, He can use the good, bad and ugly for good.  She uses the life of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers as an example.

I have to say that when I look back over my life, there have been seasons of pain but also seasons of fun, love and joy.

Are there dreams still inside of me?  What am I afraid of?  There's much to ponder.  Am I keeping the best inside my bucket and not letting it out?

I consider where I am today.  A nurse who is working in a preschool.  Now how did that happen?  It's a long story but ...

I remember that:

  • I felt very alone as a young child.
  • I couldn't run and keep up with other children.
  • I was born with a heart defect.
  • I wanted to belong.
  • I felt different.
  • I didn't want to cause my parents to cry.
  • I wanted to be held.
  • I had so much love to share.
It makes sense that I became a cardiac nurse.  

It makes sense that I love to work with little children. 

Four year old Riya says "Miss Debbie, if my hair is pulled up on the sides I will look pretty."  I quickly grab her hair band and clips and fix her dark hair the way she likes.  But I also tell her that she is beautiful no matter how her hair is fixed. She smiles up at Miss Debbie and skips away singing her favorite song ...'let it go'.

I think of some of the dreams I held close to my heart. The dreams of having my own children that never materialized.  But God brought me to this place in a way I never imagined or would choose for myself.

As I sweep the fallen crumbs from beneath the table after the children have their snack, I remember 1 Corinthians 10:31:

"Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

I believe God can work all things for good and His glory.  And so I surrender to His plan and seek His purpose.

I'm still in the process of looking at the threads of my life. I want to live out the dream God has for my life.

How about you?  Can you look back and see some of your own threads?  Are you daring to dream?  Don't regret because of a need to do everything perfectly.

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday: Willing

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

I like to know where I'm going. I like to have a plan. Show me the map or tell me the plan and I'm more inclined to be willing to be on board.

But life isn't always like that. There are days when I don't know what will happen tomorrow.  The plans in my head need to change as other people make their own plans that don't always coincide with mine.

Being married to an entrepreneur doesn't help.  After all, entrepreneurs thrive on risk and love adventure and creating.  On some day, my heart does flip flops ...or so it seems.

But God.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths."  Proverbs 3:5-6

When my path is uncertain and my view isn't clear, I've learned from experience that I can trust the One who knows all things.  After all, He knows the beginning from the end. He knows how He will use even the hard things for His purposes. My part is to trust Him.

Am I willing to trust that He will make straight my paths?

My answer is ...yes I am willing!


Blessings and love,


Soul Rest Sunday

I love the sound of rain.  Living in Phoenix, Arizona ...rain is rare.  After all, it's a desert.  So when it rains, I get excited.  All day Saturday it rained on and off.  I spent some time on my front entry all wrapped up as I watched and listened to the rain.

My hubby made me my favorite hot tea and we spent the day together at home. Sometimes it's nice to not run all over town doing errands.  We had quality time enjoying one another's company.

Today I got up early as I wanted to go to the early service at my church.  It's at 8:15.  Although I'm an early riser, I cherish my weekends.  So getting ready and being there on time was a challenge.  But I heard that this service was a bit more traditional and lately I've been missing some of the older hymns.  I enjoy most Christian music and of course I want young people to come to church.  But there's just something about those old hymns I've missed.

I wasn't disappointed in the least.  Jan Payne, a beautiful soprano sang "Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling". The words to the song were so beautiful and meaningful.  I almost cried when she sang the chorus:

Come home, come home
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home.

I missed church the last few weeks.  I've not been feeling well and so I stayed home.  I had my devotionals and I read my Bible daily.  But I really missed that corporate worship time.  Many people nowadays feel they don't need to go to church.  But for me, I miss not being there.  After all, the Bible tells us to meet together.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) says:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Our sermon was delivered by Scott Savage, minister to young adults.  He's also a fellow blogger at The Joshua Collective.  He preached about the importance of character from the book of Judges.  It was the story of Deborah and Barak.

Scott defined character:

Character is who you are and what you do when no one is looking.

He reviewed what he called the Judges Cycle.
Sin -> Oppression -> Repentance -> Peace
Sometimes I wonder why those people couldn't get their act together.  But then I consider myself.  I have a tendency to learn things the hard way too.

Scott also reminded us of something our pastor has been saying.

I feel like I've been refreshed this weekend.  Resting, worshiping and spending time with my loved one has done wonders for me.  How about you?  Did you get any soul rest this weekend?

I'm linking up with Bonnie of Faith Barista for Soul Rest Sunday.  

Blessings and love,

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