Heart Choices: July 2016

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How Do You Live in the Moment?

Live in the moment. It seems I hear that a lot lately. But how do you live in the moment?

I just returned from the most refreshing peaceful vacation in Carmel, California. I got on an airplane at Sky Harbor Airport leaving Phoenix with triple digit heat. After flying 90 minutes I arrived at Monterrey airport where my friends picked me up. We drove through Pebble Beach to arrive at our final destination; Carmel-by-the-Sea. And best of all; the temperature was 53 degrees! That's half of what it's been in Phoenix and was I ever ready for it.

I really wanted to experience some down time and be still to inspire me to write. My friends are the most gracious, kind and generous hosts. They rented a cottage that was perfectly located within a few minutes walk to town and close enough to the beach.

Every morning Terri and I would walk for about 90 minutes at a fast pace along the beach front. My friend continued even further but I stopped to soak in the scenery. There were benches along the path and I stopped to sit and listen to the sounds of the ocean watching as the waves crashed to the shore. I love the smell of seaweed and salt water. The colder air was invigorating. I took time to breathe deeply. I couldn't help but praise the Lord for the beauty of His creation.

Although I'm not Catholic, I accompanied my friends to their Sunday service at the Carmelite Monastery.  The priest's message was about paying attention. He held up his iPhone and cautioned how hard it is to listen wholeheartedly when we're distracted. He thanked us in advance for giving him our attention for the next 10 minutes.

His text was from Luke 10:38-42; the story of Mary and Martha. Martha was complaining to Jesus about her sister who was not helping her with the preparations. Instead Mary made the choice to sit at the feet of Jesus to listen to Him. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what was better.

I think of myself. I call long distance to keep in touch with my family. Sometimes I am checking Facebook or email while talking on the phone. Multi-tasking is something I find easy to do. Or is it? When I make the choice to simply focus on the conversation with my dad or sister or brother, those are the times when we communicate best. It's when I pay attention and refuse to be distracted.

My friends have a Scottie named Andy. He is so friendly and lovable. We stopped at The Lodge at Pebble Beach and walked near the 18th hole of their golf course. Many people were sitting and enjoying the view. A little baby was fascinated with Andy. She was just learning to walk and she giggled and giggled. It was a joy to watch her lost in the moment; no distractions.

I loved the moments during this trip. But I want to continue to live in the moment even when I return home. Paying attention to the little things. Focusing on the conversation. Stopping to breathe deeply. Putting down the cell phone and taking time to be quiet and still.

So how about you? How do you try to live in the moment?

I know it takes effort. It's all too easy for me to get distracted and stop paying attention. It takes practice to be in the moment. But I for one don't want to miss out on the important.

Blessings and love,


Remembering My Mom on Her Birthday

Today would have been my mom's 87th birthday. She died in 2005 but I have to admit there are days when I almost reach for the phone to call her. I miss talking to my mom, hearing her voice. I'm greatly comforted by the fact that I will see her again in heaven. So I can reminisce and even laugh at certain memories I have of her.

Yesterday, I received a letter from my dad. He sent me a copy of the text that Mom's Sunday School teacher Jim Boyer had delivered at her memorial service. I found myself nodding and smiling as I read his words. I thought I would post them today on her birthday so you can get a glimpse into what my mom was like.


"The dictionary has several definitions for the word GRACE, three of which are:
Unmerited help given to people by God
Freedom from sin through divine grace
Charm, attractiveness and beauty

God blessed Ethel with all three.

She received help in her sickness and pain by the grace of God to help her endure her long affliction of Addison's disease.

She knew the divine grace of God by her acceptance of Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. 
Today she is with her Lord; free from the torment of disease.

God also blessed Ethel with classic elegance and a sense of style. 

The lasting impression I will carry of her is the smile that she presented to the world, even when she was suffering.

I went to see her in the rehab. (Mom had broken her hip
She was not in her room. She had been taken for physical therapy.
Wanting to let her know I was there, I went to the torture chamber. 
There she sat, fully dressed. Her makeup perfectly applied. 
Wearing her beautiful smile. 
Ready to endure whatever they had devised for that session.

I doubt if anyone ever saw her without the two most important essentials; her smile and her makeup.

Ethel was a lady of style and order.

When she and Harry (my dad) moved to On Top of the World (condos) she wanted to give me the grand tour. She was so proud of her new home and her orchid collection. 
There was one thing she didn't want me to miss. She had always wanted a kitchen pantry and she finally had one that was fully organized. And like her personal appearance there was nothing out of place. 

She also took pleasure in the fact that Harry was finally going to be able to have a closet of his own. Her wardrobe had always deprived him of his personal space. 

It wouldn't be fair to Ethel if I didn't mention a side of her that some of us have had the opportunity to enjoy. 
Ethel had a little girl quality that came out when you spent time with her.  
She had that little naughty sense of humor that let you know she had given Harry a run for his money.

Style, grace, the endurance of suffering, a sense of humor, all these things will make up memories of Ethel Sumstad.

But there is one more memory that will also stand the test of time. 
A loving and devoted husband, who was always by her side in sickness and health.

Harry, this service is a testament to the love you both shared. May God bless you with many pleasant memories.

Jim Boyer 2/25/05


Such perfect timing for me to receive a copy of Jim's message. I want to  mention that the photo I posted of Mom and me was taken December 2004. She died in February 2005, only two months later. She was in pain in that photo but she still managed to smile and look her best. She never wanted to miss out on our family gatherings by staying in bed. 

So happy birthday Mom. I look forward to the day I will see you again.

Blessings and love,


God Bless America

God bless America! I love to see our red, white and blue flag flying. On this 4th of July, I think back to our country's history. Our freedom came with blood, sweat and tears.

I've been watching Bill O'Reilly's Legends and Lies: The Patriots on Fox cable news channel. It was eye opening to see the battles that were fought for our independence from England. I certainly don't want to take this freedom for granted.

So on this 4th of July 2016, may we proudly fly our flag.

A street in Montrose, California with flags flying

Flag proudly displayed in Carmel, California

And this flag proudly flying in Arizona

In the midst of some very challenging times in our history, I want to take time in my day to pray for our country and our leaders. I also want to thank those who fought so hard for our freedom. 

If you receive this post via email, click here to see video.

Blessings and love,

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