Archive | February, 2012

Zumba

28 Feb

A heart at peace gives life to the body…
Proverbs 14:30

Sigh!  Hold on a minute – let me catch my breath!  Sigh!

Ok …Wow!!  An hour of non-stop, energy exerting, muscle moving, body bouncing, serious sweating activity!  Included in our membership at Gold’s Gym is the privilege of participating in any of the classes provided by the facility.  Tuesday night at 6:30 is Zumba, and tonight was my third week to join in the fun.  I say fun loosely, for this fun is a lot of work, but when that hour is up, although I am totally exhausted and spent, I really feel like I have accomplished something monumental.

Zumba is a Latin inspired fitness program involving dance and aerobic moves.  Dance has never been in my vocabulary, let alone in my repertoire of activity, so I rather feel like I have multiple feet and they all have lead in them.  But, in my defense, I at least keep moving in the general direction that all the others are going … attempting to shake, kick, pump, and stretch at all the right times.

According to Google, “Zumba exercises include music with fast and slow rhythms, as well as resistance training.  The choreography incorporates cumbia, hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, flamenco, chachacha, tango, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves.  Squats and lunges are also included.”  With my only dance experience consisting of some form of a slow dance at our daughter’s wedding 6 years ago, those various names of dances and moves are quite overwhelming.  I have to admit, that once in the classroom and surrounded by all the other younger women, I smile and do my best to not trip over my own feet … or worse, theirs!!

Although I’m new to this fun craze of exercising, Zumba is no stranger to our family!   Our daughter, Kim, was persistent and tenacious as she trudged through the pounds of pregnancy and lost them all and more ~ due to her faithfulness to better eating habits, her routines at the gym, and Zumba.  With the upcoming birth of our granddaughter, she is looking forward to summer and returning to the gym to lose those extra pounds gained in preparation for Baby Lillieanne.  Since we both belong to Gold’s Gym, maybe we’ll be able to attend some Zumba classes together – leaving the two grandkids with their Daddy and Papaw.

With the onset of aging and aching joints, I find that having a healthy and active lifestyle with a routine of exercise is necessary for me to be able to function and not feel the maturing process so much.  I also have learned the secret to having Inner Strength that flows out into all areas of my life.

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-13

My inner strength is Jesus.
My contentment.
His heart.
His Word.
His Strength.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body and
nourishment to your bones.
Proverb 3:5-8

My trust.
My heart.
His Understanding.
My health.
My body.
My nourishment.
My bones.

Not only in Zumba do I need to pay attention to the instructions, to keep my eyes straight ahead,  follow the one who is leading, and to not swerve to the right or to the left, but in my every day world.

My son, pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet and
take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
Proverb 4:20-27

I need to do my best to keep my body healthy ~ for I was bought with a price and am the Temple where God abides …

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,
Who is in you, Whom you have received from God?
You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your body.
I Corinthians 6:19-20

Whether you have a gym membership, participate in Zumba, or walk 3 miles a week to help stay fit … or none of these  ~   They do not even compare to the importance of staying fit spiritually.  Won’t you join me …

… in view of God’s mercy, to offer OUR bodies as living sacrifices,
holy and pleasing to God–this is OUR spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of OUR minds.
Then WE will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–
His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

 

Until next time,
Debbie

For my friends who subscribe to Morsels of Mercy and automatically get a copy sent to your email, check out the blog on my website to see additional photos of my family         https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

**  Blog photo of my Valentine’s Day decor  –  February 2012

 

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Food in Philly

22 Feb

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 34:8
 

Tucked away in the middle of February, close to Valentine’s Day, was a weekend available to go do something fun and unique.  The city of Philadelphia, Google maps on my iphone, delicious food, and pleasant weather all contributed in gifting us with a great time.  We were in no rush, no hurry, and the only real agenda we had was to eat. And we did.

One of our favorite TV shows is “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri on the Food Network Channel.   As he pulls up in his bright red convertible in front of another not-so-attractive place to eat, we enjoy watching as Guy visits the kitchen and finds out the secrets to the success of the establishment.  A combination of fresh spices, unexpected ingredients, and personalized culinary methods usually leave our mouths gaping open and our taste buds longing to sample a bite or two.  Realizing that there are several of these diners, drive-ins and dives within a few hours from our home, we began to dream of the various possibilities of actually getting to taste some of those menu items.  With the help of the internet, our itinerary evolved as we made our way toward the City of Brotherly Love.

Memphis Taproom

Over the course of the next 30 hours, we visited 2 corner dives, 1 diner, and 1 pub, of which was our least favorite of the four places.  Fried kosher dill pickles and a delicious pulled pork sandwich, accessorized by garlic mayo, was our first shared meal (brunch) at the Memphis Taproom.  Then a scrumptious flatbread appetizer at Silk City Diner before dinner, to later return back to Memphis Taproom for a Smoked Coconut Club, which was featured on their evening menu, with a side of onion rings for our final entrée of the day.  We saw a plate of these amazingly yummy looking onion rings on a table nearby, so we spontaneously asked to substitute the usual fries with this favorite of mine.   After thanking the Lord for our food, I scooped up a big handful of thinly sliced, crunchy rings and stuffed them in my mouth – and in the next breath asked the Lord to please extinguish the fire inside.  When our waitress came by to refill our water glasses, I mentioned the extreme spiciness of the onions and she smiled as she explained that this is why they call them Suicide Rings.  Lesson learned – ALWAYS check the menu and read the fine print.

Honey Cristo

There’s something to be said for having to wait in line in order to be seated  – which we did for breakfast the following morning.  We were fascinated as we were offered a couple stools at the front counter of this bright and cheery corner dive called Honey’s Sit and Eat.   Bacon, coffee, the sweet scent of pancakes, french toast, and syrup,  — all those comfy aromas filled the air as we placed our orders to start off another day of adventure.  Once again, we were not at all disappointed in the recommendation of this local fare, apparently agreeing with the continuing arrival of guests, that the food was delicious.

Here’s an interesting twist to my story ~ Tim and I joined Gold’s Gym a couple weeks ago.  Since Tim’s hospitalization in November and the insertion of another stent, he decided that after the holidays he needed to begin a healthy routine of exercise and better diet.  Having lost over 10 pounds myself in the past year, due to a change in eating habits and consistent exercise, I was in full support and agreed to meet him most evenings on his way home from work so we could exercise together.  After 10 days of membership and a great start toward his goal, yes … we went to Philly to eat!  We shared most everything we ordered, drank only water (except morning coffee and juice) and we walked.  Between our late breakfast and our late lunch on Sunday, we walked through the historic district of the city, catching sites of old monuments, buildings, and streets that help document our country’s freedoms and history.  With the help of my cell phone’s mapping software, we were able to track our course of tourism as it also calculated the miles of exercise…a total of 5 miles to be exact.  Needless to say, the calories burned paved the way to our last stop on our ‘Triple D’ tour … Good Dog Bar.  The items ordered here were not anything to brag about, so we were glad we had the added bonus of redeeming a Restaurant.com gift certificate to offset the cost of the meal.

Work, gym, household chores, and eating at home have all resumed again.  That’s ok … it’s all called life.  Just as the chef will crush fresh spices and herbs to obtain the fullest and richest flavors available, and then mix with specific ingredients to create a delectable and unique tasting dish ~ this is all done in order to attract those who have such a wide array of choices of places to go eat, satisfying the pallet of those who visit their establishment. The great Culinary Expert of our lives does the same.  He takes the various facets of our existence, separating and crushing where necessary, sifting, stirring, and combining at just the right moments ~ all aspects of the process playing a huge role in the Purpose of God’s great plan for our lives.  Won’t you join me in allowing Him to prepare us from scratch, so we will be attractive and of good flavor … bringing glory and honor to Him with our lives?

Until next time,
Debbie

Prepare it with oil on a griddle;
bring it well-mixed and present the grain offering
broken in pieces as an aroma pleasing to the LORD.
Leviticus 6:21

For we are to God the aroma of Christ
among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
   2 Corinthians 2:15

For my friends who subscribe to Morsels of Mercy and automatically get a copy sent to your email, check out the blog on my website to see additional photos of my family         https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

**  Blog photo of my Valentine’s Day decor  –  February 2012

HOPE

9 Feb

For You have been my HOPE, O Sovereign LORD,
my Confidence since my youth.
Psalm 71:5

  

Through tears of discouragement, shocking disbelief, and a broken heart, I listened as my friend poured out her heart to me.  A pot of mixed emotions began to stir inside of me as I weighed the injustice against a soul who has overcome so much, victorious only by the grace and mercies of God.  Knowing the fragility of her mind and spirit, I spoke very little, praying all the while that God Himself would speak through me when it was time.  When the word ‘hopeless’ made its way into the focus of our time together, I felt the Nudge … and I began to pour out my heart.  After several sentences and a couple paragraphs later, I presented a challenge to my dear friend.  Realizing that there are times when one’s heart hurts too much to even utter a prayer, I encouraged her to sit down with her Bible and do a search on HOPE.  I know that God will speak to her heart through scripture, and she will once again know that He not only offers and provides hope, He is her Hope. 


At least there is HOPE for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.
Job 14:7-9

 

Show me Your ways, O LORD,
teach me Your paths;
guide me in Your truth and teach me,
for You are God my Savior,
and my HOPE is in You all day long.
Psalm 25:4-5

 

Guard my life and rescue me;
let me not be put to shame,
for I take refuge in You.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my HOPE is in You.
Psalm 25:20-21

 

Be strong and take heart,
all You who HOPE in the LORD.
Psalm 31:24

 

But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him,
on those whose HOPE is in His unfailing love,
to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
We wait in HOPE for the LORD; He is our Help and our Shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.
May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our HOPE in You.
Psalm 33:18-22

 

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your HOPE in God, for I will yet praise Him,
my Savior and  my God.
Psalm 42:5-6

 

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my HOPE comes from Him.
He alone is my Rock and my Salvation;
He is my Fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
He is my mighty Rock, my Refuge.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to Him,
for God is our Refuge.
Psalm 62:5-8

 

You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness,
O God our Savior, the HOPE of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
Who formed the mountains by Your power,
having armed Yourself with strength,
Who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
Psalm 65:5-7

 

O Israel, put your HOPE in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with Him is full redemption.
Psalm 130:7

 

The LORD delights in those who fear Him,
who put their HOPE in His unfailing love.
Psalm 147:11

 

Do not let your heart envy sinners,
but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.
There is surely a future HOPE for you,
and your HOPE will not be cut off.
Listen, my son, and be wise,
and keep your heart on the right path.
Proverbs 23:17-19

 

And we rejoice in the HOPE of the glory of God. 
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
 perseverance, character; and character, HOPE.
And HOPE does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His
love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
Romans 5:3-5

 

 For even Christ did not please Himself but, as it is written:
“The insults of those who insult you have fallen on Me.”
  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us,
so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures
we might have HOPE.
Romans 15:3-4

 

May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

 

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father,
who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal
encouragement and good HOPE,
encourage your hearts and strengthen
you in every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

 

We have this HOPE as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  
Hebrews 6:19

 

Therefore, prepare your minds for action;
be self-controlled; set your HOPE fully on the grace
to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
 As obedient children, do not conform to the
evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.
 But just as He who called you is Holy, so be Holy in all you do;
 for it is written: “Be Holy, because I am Holy.”
1 Peter 1:13-16

 

On my way to work yesterday morning, I spotted this couple as they walked down their driveway and out to the edge of the road  ~  a young father, holding the hand of his little boy.  Off in the distance, I saw the yellow school bus rounding the corner, coming toward the waiting pair.  I noticed that the young lad turned to look at his approaching ride, then quickly lifted his eyes to meet his father’s.  As I drove by in that brief moment, I saw a glance of hope, assurance, and love.  Even in the event of the usual, one little boy gathered confidence and courage to face another day from his strong, trusting, and loving relationship with his father.  How about us?  In the usual or in the depths of great disappointment and pain, do we seek out the One relationship that provides peace, assurance, and hope for our day? 

 Won’t you join me … and the little boy down the street, as we look to our Father for Hope?

Until next time,
Debbie

For my friends who subscribe to Morsels of Mercy and automatically get a copy sent to your email, check out the blog on my website to see additional photos of my family         https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

**  Blog photo of my Valentine’s Day decor  –  February 2012

What is That Flutter Thing?

2 Feb

My flesh and my heart may fail,
 but God is the Strength of my heart
 and my Portion forever.
Psalm 73:26

  

“Beautiful” was the first comment from the ultrasound technician yesterday morning as she looked at the image on the screen in front of her.  This one word, simple as it was, sort of gave me a small sense of peace.  My reactive response of ‘Aww’ generated an explanation from the one in charge as she informed me that “beautiful” was her way of saying that the image on the screen was clear and was in full view – not that we had an immediate diagnosis and that all was great.  So, the nerves kicked in again as I laid on my left side with cold ultrasound goo oozing beneath the magic wand that somehow transferred an image of my heart onto the monitor.  Diane told me that since I am so tiny and there is not much open space inside of me (I guess that’s a compliment), that my lungs kept getting in the way of viewing my heart, so I had to exhale and hold my breath for what seemed to be a very long time.  And I had to do this several times throughout the photo shoot, praying each time that my lungs had shrunk enough for her to capture the view of my heart that she needed.  I’m not sure if the office interior decorator planned the placement of a particular picture on the wall just so, but it was perfectly situated for me so that I could see my heart on the monitor in the reflection of the glass.  It was really fascinating as I could feel the beat of my heart beneath the pressure of the magic wand, in perfect rhythm of the indirect view I had of the pulsation and movement of this vital organ that was busy keeping me alive. 

A moment of pure honesty and transparency here … it seems that ever since we have moved back to Pennsylvania, there has been a deeper sense of awe in my soul toward the brevity of life.  Having lost my father nearly 18 years ago, experiencing the premature birth of my first grandchild, Tim being diagnosed with coronary artery disease and having 2 stents,  …  and just the realization that I am no longer a young woman with little kids tagging behind me.  I work in an office where people come and go – some are stooped over with the brokenness of body, others are led in on a son or daughter’s arm, barely able to walk, but all finding it necessary to seek financial guidance and direction from our attorneys who specialize in elder care.  It seems that with each passing day, I am more and more aware that this life is temporary and is only the pathway that will lead me Home.  So, I got a bit mushy inside as I laid there looking at my own heart beating, realizing the frailty of it all.

I’ve been relatively healthy all of my life, with an occasional incident requiring intervention, but nothing major or life changing.  So, when I began experiencing a strange flutter sensation in my chest a few months ago, I took notice.  The initial doctor’s visit before Christmas started the process of blood work, EKGs, 24 hour heart monitor and a follow-up appointment with a cardiologist.  Everything thus far had checked out ok, but the specialist recommended I have a stress echocardiogram to completely rule out any problems with the heart.  So that’s where I was at 7:00 yesterday morning.  The initial EKGs and heart ultrasounds were all a picnic compared to the “stroll” I had to take on the treadmill, followed by an immediate set of ultrasounds on the heart, done in the first 90 seconds … all the while I’m huffing and puffing and trying desperately to catch my breath.  But remember I’m tiny.  My lungs were in the way.  I had to once again exhale and hold my breath several times.  All I could do was pray and ask Jesus to help me not breathe while everything in me was screaming for air.  Finally the essential photo shoot was over.  With goo dripping down my side and my heart beginning to calm down, tears filled my eyes as I thought of my mother going through that traumatic experience a few years ago.  Or even my husband in Albuquerque when he had to go on his treadmill jog with pain in his chest and extremely high blood pressure.  Sigh …    Within moments, the doctor on duty came in and gave me the good report that all is well with my heart.  Praise the Lord!!

So then, what is that flutter thing?  I have felt it at times in my upper chest, but most of the time, the sensation is in the soft spot of my throat.  It comes and goes ~ some days I feel it all day long, and others I notice it from time to time.  There are even moments when I feel like it sort of makes me catch my breath, and I need to cough to release it so I can clear my air passage.  I have found no rhyme or reason as to what triggers this flutter … time of day or night, my body position, food or no food.  It does seem, however, that stress and caffeine eccelerate the flutter to a degree, but they do not cause it.  Instructions for the test yesterday morning required that I did not consume any caffeine (coffee, chocolate, tea, …) in the 24 hours before the appointment, which I heeded, but noticed that the flutters still came and went despite the absence of chocolate and Cherry Coke.  And because I now can, I am sipping a cup of Starbucks Pike’s Place coffee, freshly made at home…with vanilla creamer and some Splenda ~ and a homemade almond/chocolate chip biscotti to dunk in it!  Yum!   Getting back to the flutter!!  Both doctors who have seen me for the flutter have mentioned that if it’s not my heart, then it could possibly be menopause.  Well, the cardiologist tried to be tactful by saying that it all could be a sign of maturity.  Seriously?  I chuckle right now as I am feeling this odd sensation of maturity.  I don’t know what to think.  It’s not painful, just annoying and distracting.  At least now I know that it is not a heart issue.  Maybe a hinge on the flapper in my esophagus has corroded and doesn’t close properly any longer?  Not sure, but I do hope that someone will be able to give me an answer to this flutter question. 

We all have questions that need answered, don’t we?  If it’s not a physical concern, maybe it’s financial or relational.  Whatever the case may be, we seek doctors, lawyers, counselors, pastors, family, and friends for help.  And we are ever so grateful for these people in our lives who can help answer life’s questions.  I’m also eternally indebted to the One who created me and Who knows the very number of red corpuscles that my heart pumps throughout my body.  He is my Physician, my Lawyer, my Counselor, my Pastor, my Family, and my Friend.  He is Jesus.  Won’t you join me in taking our questions to the One with the answers? 

I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
Psalm 16:7

  

The LORD is my Strength and my Shield;
my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to Him in song.
Psalm 28:7

 

Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
Proverbs 4:23

 

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Psalm 139:23

  

Until next time,
Debbie

For those of you who have been praying for our daughter, she received a wonderful report from her obstetrician last week … her cervix measured the same, but remains stable, so he lifted the restrictions of light duty and encouraged her to return to normal activity ~ whatever that is at 6 1/2 months pregnant.  Thank you for praying, and thank you Jesus!!

~~~

 A note to all of my ‘mature’ lady friends … have any of you experienced this unusual phenomenon?  Perhaps it’s really not that unusual and many of you know exactly what it is … please tell me!   The flutter seems to have the doctors stumped, but I’m sure someone, somewhere out there knows the answer.  Leave your comments below … please and thank you!!

~~~

For my friends who subscribe to Morsels of Mercy and automatically get a copy sent to your email, check out the blog on my website to see additional photos of my family         https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

**  Blog photo of my Valentine’s Day decor  –  February 2012