Heart Choices: 2019 -->

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What I Learned This Summer 2019

At the end of each season, I like to take some time to reflect. Was there something new I learned and would like to share with others? Did something not work for me? There's always good and not so good. I made the choice years ago to be a life long learner.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." 

George Santayana, writer, and philosopher

1. It is much too hot in Phoenix during the summer. 
Yes, I realize we have a dry heat, but triple-digit temps are hot regardless. Since working as a teacher, I love that I get to take summers off. Greg and I took a few short trips to escape the heat. 

Greer, AZ is about a four and a half-hour drive from Phoenix.  There are only two restaurants in this small town. We stayed at Greer Lodge and each cabin is equipped with a full kitchen. Internet access isn't the best but it turned out to be a good thing. I think I needed a break from social media, even if it was only for a few days.

Our cabin
We also took a short trip to Dana Point, California to visit Greg's sister. The condo was walking distance to the ocean and there were cool breezes. We got lots of exercise and the views were simply amazing.

The beach

Although I love Phoenix for most of the year, my hope is to be able to get away every summer to escape the heat.

2. Be thankful for each day as we never know how long we will live.
My dad turned 90 years old in February. Thirty years ago, he had his first major heart attack and was placed on life support. I remember flying to Florida not knowing if he would make it through the night. How thankful I am to still have him in my life and that he is independent and living on his own. Who would have guessed?
My dad
Dad likes to tell me that God isn't finished with him yet. And I believe that's true. In the meantime, I enjoy my twice-daily phone calls and visits to Florida as often as I can.

3. Accomplishing a goal takes time and discipline. 
I'm determined to complete my parent book called "Kids Say the Funniest Things in Preschool". This summer I was able to send the pdf copy to a few friends and parents to get some feedback. I found this very helpful and made a few changes. Since I'm self-publishing, it's been a tedious task that includes formatting. My husband has been very patient and helpful as we go through this process. Many hours have been spent pouring over every detail. I hope to receive a test book this week in the mail. I'm excited but also a little nervous. I know it takes work to promote and market a book.

4. I never knew what went into writing a hit song.
I discovered a new TV show this summer called Songland. Each week, one recording artist appears on the show as unknown songwriters pitch their song. Some of the artists I've seen include Leona Lewis, Kelsea Ballerini, Charlie Puth and the Jonas Brothers. Three songs are chosen by the artist and then the real work begins. One of the seasoned songwriters Ester Dean, Shane McAnally, and Ryan Tedder work with each of the three unknowns to shape their song into a possible hit. I find it fascinating to watch them at work creatively. The final product is often much different from what they started out with and it's always better.

Talent and creativity may be gifts given from God but much work still goes into the process. Sometimes, I get lazy and wish I could magically create something unique and not have to work so hard. Even writing songs takes time and effort.

5. I'm getting to learn more about Instagram.
I've had an account with IG for some time but rarely visited this site until this summer. Part of the problem was that I take most of my photos using my Nikon camera. Occasionally, I use my cell phone camera but not as often. But it is quick and easy to post things on the spur of the moment. I've located friends who don't use Facebook. So, that's been a pleasant surprise.

6. 1969 was a very unique year.
I was in high school in 1969. My brother graduated that year and he is 18 months older than me. This was the year when astronauts walked on the moon. The Manson family went on a horrible killing spree that shocked the world. A music festival in upstate New York called Woodstock drew an audience of more than 350,000 rock and roll fans. I was working in the record department (music) of a local Long Island, NY store at this time. I remember a co-worker telling me that he was going to the festival. Little did I know how big it would be! Richard Nixon became the 37th President of the United States. The Chappaquiddick scandal became headline news for Ted Kennedy the same weekend as the moon landing. I watched a docuseries on ABC called 1969 this summer. I hadn't realized how many events actually occurred that year.

What did you learn this summer? May I suggest you take some time to look back and share. I'd love to hear your stories in the comments. If you're a blogger, you might consider linking up with us at Emily P Freeman as we share what we learned this summer.

Blessings and love,


Five Minute Friday: Middle

It's Five Minute Friday, and I decided to join in and link up. We are given the word and get to write for five minutes flat. This week our word is MIDDLE.


Being in the middle is comfortable for me. After all, I'm the middle child in my family. However, I never really hid behind the scenes growing up. My congenital heart defect and subsequent surgery brought me front and center. But, I didn't necessarily like the attention it brought.

Even to this day, I sometimes prefer to blend in the middle of the crowd. But, then I remember that God created me and equipped me with gifts I am to use for His glory. That means I must step out of the middle and obey. But, when I step out, I discover that not everyone agrees or approves. I'm slowly learning that's okay.

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

 "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16
I want to choose to step out of the middle. It may be outside my comfort zone, but that is how I will grow.


Blessings and love,


What I Learned This Spring

I've discovered that the best way for me to move forward in life is to look back. I don't keep my eyes on the past, but I try to reflect on what I learned. It's too easy to focus on what's ahead, but then I don't enjoy the everyday moments and gifts.

So, here are six things I learned this spring.

1. Change is good. 

I teach preschool children. Introducing the season of spring is one of my favorite times of the year. I ask my class a question. 

Who can tell me something about spring?

I hear answers from the mouths of excited children. 
Bunnies and caterpillars; 
Flowers and butterflies. 

Spring is a time of change. Caterpillars go through a process called metamorphosis. My students had the opportunity to observe as the caterpillars formed a chrysalis. We talked about being patient and what that word meant. 

Little Addy remembered and shouted out, "Are we there yet?" She knew the opposite of patience. 

Eventually, butterflies emerged. It was time to let our butterflies go. 

As I think about the ugly little caterpillar and how it eventually emerges as a beautiful butterfly, I realize change is good. I have a confession: change is challenging for me.  I prefer consistency, but change can bring out the best in us just like the emergence of the beautiful butterfly.

2.  I discovered the KonMari Method.

I stumbled upon Kon Mari on Netflix. I often become frustrated and overwhelmed with stuff. I laugh as I tell my co-worker Hillary that I want to be like her when I grow up. Mind you; I could easily be her mother. (That's what happens when you go back to work in your 60's; everyone is younger.) But, Hillary's classroom reflects her organization skills.  I tend to reshuffle my piles instead of discarding what's not working or necessary. 

Kon Mari is all about discarding items that no longer have value. So, I tried it at home and emptied my dresser drawers. I took each piece and thought about whether I liked it and how I felt wearing it. By the time I completed this task, I had a pile of clothes to donate to goodwill.  I then proceeded to fold my clothes carefully so I could find each one by color. 

I have to admit I've not perfected this method. It's a work in process. 

3.  I love flowers and sweet smells.

Even though I live in a small condo, that doesn't stop me from incorporating flowers and sweet smells. There's a small courtyard out front, and my roses bloom beautifully, especially in the spring. I added a hummingbird feeder. I enjoy cultivating my garden.  On my small back patio, I also have flowers and hummingbird feeders. Early in the morning, I sit quietly in my chair. I hear the sound of hummingbirds as they put their long beaks into the sweetness of the feeder. Often, they will come right in front of my face as though they were speaking to me. 

I decided to bring the smells of spring inside my home. I received many sweet gifts from the parents of my students for Teacher Appreciation Week. Flowers, candles, and distillers of sweetness. My desk,  located in a quiet corner of my living room, is a place of beauty.

4. I love the music of Lauren Daigle.

Lauren Daigle has such a rich, recognizable quality to her voice. During the latest season of American Idol, she served as a celebrity mentor to the six finalists. What I didn't know was that Lauren had auditioned for the show ten years earlier and been turned down. Despite the no, she's emerged as an amazingly talented singer. 

One of my favorite songs Lauren recorded is "You Say."

5. I learned the story behind the song "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me.

The song debuted back in 1999, and I loved it from the start. But only recently, I watched the movie of the same name on Amazon Prime Video. The song was written and composed by lead sing Bart Millard. What I learned is that he grew up with an abusive father. His mom dropped him off at a Christian summer camp, but when he returned home, his mother had left the family.  He played football in high school, but a significant injury ended the possibility of any future football career. He had to enroll in an elective, and the only one not filled was the Glee Club. The teacher heard Bart singing with his headphones on and was thrilled to discover he could sing. 

The story continues as he joins a band and takes to the road to get out of his house and away from his alcoholic father. Despite touring, writing songs, singing to crowds, the band never made it. His manager recommends he deal with his demons and so he returns home. He discovers his dad is dying but no longer drinking. It's a story of forgiveness and healing between father and son. Bart proceeds to write "I Can Only Imagine" after his father's death. 

6. We never know how long we will live.

My father turned 90 years old on February 28. He had his first heart attack when he was sixty years old. I remember getting the dreaded phone call as the doctors didn't know if he'd make it through the night. I was a cardiac nurse but living across the country from him, so I hopped on a flight to Florida. Since then he's had bypass surgery, 13 angioplasties, numerous stents, a pacemaker, and defibrillator. Despite my mom's death at the age of 75, my dad has continued to survive and live independently.

God is good, and only He knows the day He will take my dad home. In the meantime, I enjoy our twice daily phone calls and visits when I can fly to Florida.

So, how about you? What have you learned this past season? May I suggest that you take some time each season and write down a few things you've learned? 

Blessings and love,


What Are You Searching For?

When I saw the one-word writing prompt for Five Minute Friday, I knew I wanted to participate. I have five minutes to write a blog post and link up with other writers. So here goes...


It seems like I'm always searching for something. I call them the "Debbie goes down the rabbit hole" moments. I start out looking for an idea for my preschool class on Pinterest. Of course, there are so many fun things to check out while I'm there. I rationalize that I can categorize all the recipes I want to make one day, the clothes I'd love to purchase, and the crafts that are too cute. I know where to go back to so I can find them. That is if I really remember and go back. (Yeah, right)

So where was I? Oh yes, searching. I end up on Teachers Pay Teachers, which by the way is a great site to help with lesson planning. I start out looking for something specific but spend way too much time looking at the many cool ideas there. I look at my watch and realize I've spent an hour and I almost forgot what I was searching for. Does that ever happen to you? Am I alone here?

I come back to my search. I want to do my best, whether it's teaching preschool children, helping my family, or cooking a great meal. But I end up all over the place in my quest.

How thankful I am that I know where to go to be accepted just as I am and that I am loved. My search for perfection and acknowledgment are my fleshly desires. But God loves me. I can be myself as I sit down and do my quiet time first thing in the morning. He guides me through His Word. I share my concerns and then rest in Him, knowing that He hears. 


Blessings and love,


Who Do You Influence?

Influence is defined as "the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself" according to dictionary.com.

Influence happens to be the one-word writing prompt for Five Minute Friday. Since it's now Sunday, I'm late to the party. But that word is one that I take very seriously.


As I think back over my life, I've been influenced by many people and circumstances. Some are good and others not so good. During my childhood, my mom was always there for me. She was my biggest cheerleader. She taught me good manners, how to be a good guest, how to listen and not just talk, and she shared her sense of style with me. She's been gone now for almost 18 years, and yet I still momentarily forget and long to call her on the phone for one of our chats. She knew my strengths, but she also knew my weaknesses. And yet she loved me.

As an aunt, I longed to influence my nieces. Although we lived across the country from each other, frequent phone calls and travels bought us valuable time together. Trips to Washington DC, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco provided us many opportunities to share our lives with one another. I learned from Kristin and Katie, and I hope they learned from me.

As a nurse, I hope that I influenced the patients I cared for positively. I tried to model healthy habits as I taught them how to prevent future heart problems.

As a preschool teacher, I also hope to influence my students positively. After all, they spend many hours with me in our classroom five days a week. Besides teaching them academics, I hope to influence their character. I want them to be kind, to listen and not be so quick to speak 'me, me, me'. Of course, that's a challenge at the age of three.

Who do you influence? People observe you every day. What do they see? Are you stressed out? Are you impatient? Or do they see someone who cares and listens?


Blessings and love,

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