Heart Choices: 2015 -->

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What I Learned in 2015

I'm a life long learner. I believe there's always something new to learn no matter what your age.

So as 2015 comes to a close, I thought I'd take the opportunity to list some of the things I learned this past year.

1. I love teaching my very own class of little ones.

I really didn't expect to have a second career.  For 25 years I worked as a cardiac nurse and finally retired. But sometimes life happens in unexpected ways. It's a long story but I'm now a preschool teacher. I'm so glad I worked with Heidi for four years first as she taught me so much about how to teach.  When I was given the opportunity for my own class ...I felt prepared.

2.  I'm learning to enjoy the moment.

This is an ongoing learning process for me. Working with little children helps open my eyes to the wonder of the ordinary. A plane flying overhead, birds singing in the trees, a rainbow, the moon in the sky, rain, puddles, laughter.  My camera has become a constant companion so I can capture the moments to remember.

3. Marriage is worth all the hard work it takes.

I love my husband. But marriage is hard. It's not all romance and good times. Having lots of money doesn't fix everything. In fact, it can create a new set of problems. After 31 years of marriage and being in a place I never anticipated or wanted, I have to say that my marriage is better than it's ever been. We have much less materially but Greg and I are closer than ever. We're working as a team. We celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary in November and he surprised me by having 31 red roses delivered to my work. What a guy!

4.  Getting and staying in shape at my age takes effort.

The past five years have been stressful. I discovered that sweets and foods I love can provide instant gratification. But unfortunately, they tend to add extra pounds to the body. I knew I needed to do something about this. For most of my life, I exercised and maintained a consistent weight. As you get older it's harder to keep those pounds off. So I created a plan in May and stuck with it. My day now begins with exercise. I get everything ready the night before so when I wake up I have no excuses. I jump into my workout clothes before my brain can argue about the early hour. Walking on the treadmill affords me time to read my Kindle. I've read more books this year because of this extra time. I also established a diet plan that I could live with. I lost twenty pounds and intend to keep it off.

5.  I love to watch Fixer Upper on HGTV.

I'm a nester. I love making my home special no matter what my circumstances are. Years ago, my home was featured on  an HGTV show called Homes Across America.  I wish I could say I still lived there but ... I don't. My home is now a very small condo. Watching Chip and Joanna Gaines make something beautiful out of homes I would never think of buying has opened my eyes. No matter where you live or what your budget, you can make your house a home.


6. Prayer and quiet time with the Lord is essential each morning. 

Many years ago, I began having a daily quiet time. I've gone through many ups and downs in life. I realize now more than ever how important it is for me to give the Lord the first fruits of my day.  So after my exercise, I sip my first cup of coffee as I read my Bible and pray. I journal and write down much of what is on my heart. As I look back at my journal, I can see many answered prayers. I am able to thank Him and praise Him for His faithfulness.

7. Treasure those special family moments.

My dad will be 87 on his next birthday. Frankly, I feel blessed that he is doing as well as he is considering his heart condition. I thank God for that. My brother Steve and his family and my sister Christine and her family all now live in Florida. I don't get to visit as often as I like. How thankful I was to spend Thanksgiving with them this year.

My sister Chris, my dad, me and my brother Steve
So what have you learned in 2015? I could go on and on but I think these are the highlights.

I'm linking up with Emily P. Freeman's blog Chatting at the Sky.

Blessings and love,


One Word Advent: Love

Today I'm linking up for One Word Advent with Bonnie of Faith Barista. Our writing prompt for this week is LOVE.

Oh that word love! As a young woman, my mother told me I was in love with love. You know, the romance; flowers, soft music, candlelit dinners. It was the ideal I had in my head. But life happens and love didn't always live up to that vision.  It became easy to cover my heart to shield it from any possible further pain. 

But God's love is different.  Maybe you know the verse from 1 Corinthians 13 as love is described. 

Love is patient. Love is kind. 

On this morning of Christmas Eve, I'm reminded of God's perfect love. As I read the familiar story of Jesus' birth from Luke 2, I don't want to gloss over a few very important facts. 

  • Luke 2:7 tells us that Mary gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger as there was no lodging available.
  • The very next verse speaks of shepherds. I recently read a post on Randy Alcorn's blog about the status of shepherds at the time of Jesus' birth. They were not high on the social register by any means. 
  • Why wouldn't the angels have announced the birth of Jesus first to the religious leaders of that day? Or maybe to some important people at least?
I encourage you to read the account from Luke 2:8-20 (NIV):

 "And there were shepherd living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause you great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what they had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them." 

The birth of Jesus was first announced to lowly shepherds. 

I think of how Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4.  He revealed that He was the living water. At that time, she would have been at the bottom rung of 'important' in the eyes of the world. But Jesus chose to reveal Himself to her.

Maybe it's been hard for you to give and receive love. Maybe you don't feel very important in the eyes of man.

I work as a preschool teacher so I get to work with children every day. Most of them have never yet been scarred  and hurt by loved ones. I pray they never will. So often a little child will look at me and out of the blue say, "I love you Miss Debbie." I am humbled when this happens.

But I am even more humbled that Jesus loves me. He was born in a lowly manger. The Bible tells me He came to save me.

John 3:16-17 (NLT) says:

"For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son not to judge the world but to save the world through Him."

Now I don't know about you but to me ...that is LOVE.

Gifts are usually exchanged on Christmas. But there is a free gift that God offers to you and to me. And His name is JESUS. You don't need to earn it. You don't need to be someone 'important' to receive it. Will you finally open up your heart and receive His love?

Blessings and love,


One Word Advent: Peace

What is the one most important thing our society needs?  This is the question posed in the movie Miss Congeniality starring Sandra Bullock. Listen to the answers from the beauty pageant contestants.

(If you cannot view video, click here)

It seems that every time I turn on the television to watch the news there is another ALERT. A horrific bombing, a shooting, terrorism, hate groups. While many are bent on destruction, most in our society would claim to desire ...world peace.

But is that really possible in our world today?

I am linking up with Bonnie of Faith Barista as we write on the word PEACE for One Word Advent.

Years ago as a child, I remember flirting with the possibility of working for the United Nations. It was a brief dream as I enjoyed my Spanish class in middle school. I loved the idea of helping build peace between nations and I had visited the United Nations in Manhattan. That career choice went by the wayward and instead I pursued a nursing career. But peace was and is something I desire.

Yes, we can and should make attempts to bring varying groups together.  But history has shown that not all people truly want peace. I read about Neville Chamberlain who was the British Prime Minister in the late 1930's. He was dealing with the threat of Hitler and his forces but he took on a policy of appeasement. The following year World War II was declared. There are forces in this world set on destruction and who do not desire peace.

But there is a way to peace. Peace can only be found in a person and His name is ...JESUS.

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"
Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV) 

In this world we will have trouble. Jesus told His disciples this before He was to be crucified.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
John 16:33 (NIV)

I read of people such as Pastor Saeed Abedini who sits in an Iranian prison because of  his faith in Jesus Christ.  He is being tortured and separated from his family in America.

I thank God for Jesus who came into this world to save us.

"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
John 10:9-10 (NIV)

So during this advent season I will thank God for the peace He provides for me through a relationship with Jesus. No matter what storms come my way, He is with me and gives me His strength.

Blessings and love,


Be Thankful

I was in the habit of counting my every day blessings on Heart Choices. In fact, I'd recorded more than 1,000 blessings but somehow I got out of the habit. I decided it's time to start writing them down again.

Being thankful changes my perspective. Instead of viewing my life through the lens of what's wrong, it causes me to notice all that's good.

Over my Thanksgiving break, I was able to travel to Florida to visit my family. My dad will be celebrating his 87th birthday. My siblings' families are growing with grandchildren and I didn't want to miss out.

Here is my dad with his great grandson Kameron. Such a precious sight! How thankful I was to spend time with both of them.

This past week my mother-in-law Gloria celebrated her 90th birthday. One of her favorite desserts is cheesecake. So Greg, his two sisters and Frank and me sang happy birthday and ate cheesecake. So thankful that she is living in her own home and is even able to drive. And she is so sharp. Amazing, I know!

I work with some amazing teachers. Here are three of them at a recent Christmas party. We laugh and enjoy each other. I am old enough to be their mom but how grateful I am to be included. We have a wonderful relationship for which I am thankful.

I now have six Mini-Mustangs in my class. In January, I will have at least two more students and possibly four. Since the children are under the age of three, I need some help. So I've been given an assistant to help me. I'm so thankful to have Miss Patricia! Both of us started working at our school in 2010 and so I know her well. She's worked with me in summer camp too.

I'm so thankful for good health. I've been working out daily and have lost more than twenty pounds. It helps me with endurance and strength dealing with little ones all day. I have to admit I sleep well at night.

However, I did catch a cold recently. Today I stayed home from church so I could simply rest. Greg took care of me as I sipped tea and took naps.

How thankful I am that I can watch my church service online and not miss out. However, this morning I watched the Brooklyn Tabernacle church services. It was one hour and 40 minutes but I loved every bit of it. The worship was so inspiring and I found myself singing along as I sat comfortably in my pj's. Pastor Jim Cymbala shares Scripture and always gives application to our lives. I love that. I've visited this church twice when I was in New York City. I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Manhattan. I felt like it is a foretaste of heaven as every skin color and background are represented. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming.

I read a book on the plane written by Sarah Mae entitled Longing for Paris.  It's not a book about a trip to Paris but instead finding fun and joy right in the midst of where you are. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it.

I'm so thankful for so many free videos and booklets I can obtain online. Emily P. Freeman posted four videos that totally blessed me. You can sign up and access them here. Emily's latest book is called Simply Tuesday and I hope to read this one soon. As you can tell, I love to read!

I loved this quote from Emily.

"Psalm 46:10 reminds us to be still and know that He is God. I'm learning that stillness is to the soul as de-cluttering is to the home."

Don't you just love that?

Once I begin to count my every day blessings, it's easy to go on and on and on ...

I pray that you will make the choice to begin to count your every day blessings. What are you thankful for? I'd love to hear.

Blessings and love,


One Word Advent: Hope

I've been silent lately on Heart Choices. My heart has been overflowing with things I want to share but time has been limited. I continue to write in my journal each day as the Lord is teaching me.

As I enter this season of Christmas, I knew I wanted to join with Bonnie Gray of Faith Barista for One Word Advent. Today we are linking up to write on the word HOPE.

This morning I woke up with a song on my  heart.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives all fear is gone.
Because I know, I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

(Because He Lives by Bill Gaither)

I emphasized the words I know because that is the hope I hold deeply in my heart. It is not a worldly hope like "I hope I win the lottery". It is a hope based on the Word of God.

I can tell you from personal experience that God is trustworthy and faithful.

I've had moments in my life when I didn't know what I was going to do and how I was going to get through some very challenging times. He has sustained me and given me His strength. When I lost all material possessions, I learned to place my HOPE in Him. People can let you down but God never will. I came to realize that He has a plan for my life and His plans are always good.

If I could only have one prayer answered in my life, it would be that my loved ones would know Jesus in a personal relationship and walk with Him. This has been an ongoing prayer of mine as our family expands with new babies.

Over Thanksgiving I flew to Florida to spend time with family. My dad is going to turn 87 years old on his next birthday and he faces some health challenges. I wanted to spend time with him. I also wanted to see my brother and sister and their families. Although I was unable to have children, I have nieces and nephews who are now married and starting their own families. What a joy to hold their little ones in my arms.

I was delighted to learn that my niece and her husband have found a church. Their children are attending Sunday School! I asked little Kenzie what she learns in Sunday School. She told me about the crafts and the songs. I asked her if they teach her about Jesus. She looked up at me very innocently and said, "Jesus is God". 

Praise God who answers prayer. I can have HOPE.

No matter where I am or what I'm doing, I always want to be able to share that hope with others.

Although I don't work in a Christian school, I pray that I would be a light to point others to Jesus. I pray that others would realize where I place my hope. I want to always live out 1 Peter 3:15.

How thankful I am that God sent Jesus into this world to save us. He gave us free will but He also gave us the way to have peace with God. I have received this free gift of life and so I can live with HOPE.

So I have a question for you.

If you could have only one prayer answered in this life, what would it be?

Blessings and love,


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Since I worked as a nurse for 25 years, I'm always interested in promoting good health. Heart Choices is all about making healthy choices body, mind and spirit.

I've had many friends and family impacted by breast cancer. I'm amazed at the number of women impacted by this disease.

This is a photo of me and one of my best friends from high school. Maria was in the process of being diagnosed with breast cancer when we reconnected back in 2004.

We had so much fun visiting the beach and reminiscing about old times.  I cherish these times as she died from breast cancer several years later. 

I try to live a healthy lifestyle. I exercise, watch my diet and have my yearly mammogram. Since there is a history of breast cancer in my family, I want to be diligent about this. This year I was told that my mammogram was abnormal. I had to wait to schedule an ultrasound. In the meantime, my mind went to all my friends and family who have dealt with this disease. Thankfully, everything came out fine. 

Bankers Healthcare Group works closely with medical professionals. They want to get the word out about increased awareness and early detection of breast cancer. They supplied me with a graphic to post on Heart Choices.

Breast Cancer Awareness Infographic

Here are a few highlights:
  • One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.

To see a larger copy of this helpful graphic, I encourage you to link here.

Here are a few additional resources that you  might find helpful:

So don't hide your head in the sand! Knowledge is power and early detection is a must.

Do you do monthly self check exams? Do you have a yearly mammogram? Now is the time to take action.

Blessings and love,


Autumn Blessings


Autumn is my favorite season. Memories of growing up on Long Island, New York include the changing colors of leaves, cool crisp days and lots of leaves to rake. Now that I live in Phoenix, Arizona autumn is different but ...I still love this time of year.

It's been too long since I wrote about counting my blessings. I'd been in the habit of writing them down every Monday. I'd accumulated well over 1,000 and ...then I stopped.

So what better time to pick up this habit when I have so much to be thankful for.

Yes, it's warmer in Phoenix than Lindenhurst, NY but it's still pumpkin time. And did I mention that I love everything pumpkin. Pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin soup, pumpkin candles.  I even bought a fun t-shirt from Zulily.

What do you think? I love it!

I was so excited when my Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer arrived in the mail. I had to go shopping to see everything pumpkin and I wasn't disappointed. They had large pumpkins. They had small pumpkins. They had flowers; lots of flowers.

I can't wait to teach my little Mini-Mustang class all about pumpkins. I know our Science teacher Mrs. Baer plans such fun activities but I want to add a little bit to it. I have pumpkin fever after all!

I love to observe little children as they discover what's inside a pumpkin. You never know what they will do but that's part of the fun. 

This is what happened last year when Mandie and I worked together. No Leo, don't put your head in the pumpkin. :)

I found this cute autumn subway art printable which you can download for yourself here

My thankful list:
  • Temperatures in the double digits in Phoenix (not triple)
  • Lots of pumpkins
  • Pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks
  • A four day weekend
  • Getting closer to Thanksgiving
  • Talking to Heidi, my amazing friend and co-worker for four years
  • Going to Scottsdale Fashion Square to meet a friend (I've not been in the mall in years)
  • Long walks in the morning
  • Losing weight (I'm almost at the goal I set for myself)
  • A delicious dinner last evening prepared and served by my hubby Greg 
  • One more day before returning to work tomorrow
I will leave you with a photo I took at Trader Joe's on Saturday.

Will you take time this week to notice your every day blessings? I can guarantee that it will begin to change your perspective.

Blessings and love,


The View Has It Wrong About Nurses

Last week I watched a video from the Miss America pageant. One of the contestants performed a monologue for her talent competition. She was dressed in scrubs with a stethoscope wrapped around her neck. I immediately recognized her as a nurse as she began to share. It was a very touching monologue as she works with Alzheimer's patients. Here is the video:

I posted the video on my Facebook page. After all, I'm a nurse.  I worked for 25 years as a cardiovascular nurse specialist. I know what it's like and I remember so many patients who impacted me greatly. I could share many stories of patients who reminded me of why I became a nurse. I could identify with what this nurse was saying.

But then ...the comments made by two of the hosts for The View have spread across social media. They ridiculed her 'talent' and questioned why a nurse would be wearing a stethoscope.

My niece Katie and I have been to The View in NYC. I got tickets so we could sit in the audience. But that was years ago when the talk show was hosted by people like Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Meredith Vieira and Barbara Walters. It's not the same any more.

I just want to say that nurses do wear stethoscopes! It's an important part of our job. 

Two nurses

Nurses rock!

I enjoyed Miss Colorado's monologue. What about you? What's your opinion?

Blessings and love,

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