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Thursday
Jul212016

3 Secrets for Cultivating Humility

Kathy Collard Miller is an author and speaker who encourages women to apply practical principles from the Word of God. In this Attitude UPGRADE, she explores some ways to cultivate humility.

"A lot of us think humility means debasing ourselves," Kathy said, "but being humble actually means acknowledging what God has done in our lives."

This is so refreshing! I (Dawn) have heard so many weak and unbiblical descriptions of humility. But Kathy is right on target.

Kathy continues . . .

The Greek word for humility originally was used by writers to communicate something negative: “groveling” or “abject.” But the Apostle Paul came along and turned it into God’s perspective.

Here’s how to cultivate humility.

1. Think rightly of yourself.

True humility is not thinking low of oneself but thinking “right.”

Romans 12:3 tells us God’s perspective: “For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

Author Warren Wiersbe wrote, “The truly humble person yields himself to Christ to be a servant, to use what he is and has for the glory of God and the good of others.”

2. Give credit to God.

God has given you strengths, gifts and talents, and if you reject them, you are rejecting God’s provisions.

Humility means giving credit to God.

And yes, each person has weaknesses. Humility acknowledges the need to receive God’s help to correct those weaknesses.

A word picture I heard years ago helps me. Sometimes a turtle shell can be found balanced on a fence post in the yards of Mid-western towns. No one believes that turtle climbed up there himself. No, he was placed there. You and I are like that turtle.

God places us in service whether it’s called parenting, employment, ministry, volunteering or listening. It’s His doing and we can acknowledge His work in us.

3. Be inspired by Jesus’ surrender.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5-8 that the basis of humility is the surrender Jesus exemplified:

“Have this attitude in yourself which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Most likely none of us will be called to develop humility by dying for Christ’s sake, but the more we are willing to be misunderstood, maligned, gossiped about, or face any other difficulty will reveal and develop our surrender—from which springs humility.

Which of those three insights would you like to concentrate on so that humility can be stronger in your life?

Kathy Collard Miller loves to help women trust God more through her 50 books and her speaking in over 30 states and 8 foreign countries. Visit her website/blog and discover more about her speaking ministry here. Kathy has authored more than 200 magazine articles and more than 50 books, including Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries and Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today. Her newest book is Choices of the Heart, a Bible study, available here.

Mirror Graphic adapted - 18th century vermeil mirror in the Musee des Arts decoratifs, Strasbourg ... By Gryffindor - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5242020.

Turtle Graphic adapted - from the Oklahoma Ark Museum Blog.

Monday
Jul182016

God's Road Map for Woman

Morgan Farr is a young mom with many talents, but I'm most impressed with how she grew into a fresh understanding of womanhood—and how she shares it with others. In this Biblical Womanhood UPGRADE, she invites us to think carefully about who we are.

"Navigating the societal expectations for women can seem a lot like tightrope walking. One wrong step and you’re done," Morgan says. "Thankfully God laid out a road map for us long before we knew we needed it."

I (Dawn) appreciate this strong perspective, but I know this is also true: sometimes we're not willing to "see" and study the map because we don't like the destination. I'm grateful for Morgan's biblical stance.

Morgan continues . . .  

Anything involving women, let alone biblical womanhood, is a touchy subject in today’s world.

Feminism and its proponents shriek about equality and how oppressed everyone is, while simultaneously trying to force us to believe and follow their mantra. 

I read recently about a college that now recognizes 23 different gender identities, so that no one feels left out. Apparently calling someone female who doesn’t feel female is oppressing. If we do that, we are trying to keep her down.

Back when I was in college there were only two; male and female. And I believe that—despite what media may tell us—that is still true.

Even a quick glance through the Bible will show you the following three things.

1) We were made male and female, in the image of God.

The reality is, “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). When He created each one of us, He knew exactly what He was doing.

There is no third, fourth, or fifth sex. There is male and female, period.

2) Not all women are called to do the same things.

We live in a world that celebrates androgyny. Little girls can’t play with dolls and tea set while little boys can not play with trucks and toys guns or we are forcing gender stereotypes on them.

Let me tell you from experience: even if you gave a little boy a doll, he will turn it into a “gun”. Boys are hardwired to provide and protect. Girls are hardwired to love and nurture.

This doesn’t mean women need to be "barefoot and pregnant" in the kitchen all their lives. God does call some women to extraordinary things. Look at Deborah in the Bible. Her story is awesome! But we are not all called to be Deborahs. Some of us are called to be a Mary, Anna or Ruth. And that is ok.

As long as each woman is closely seeking after God’s heart her purpose in life will become clear. That may mean running a Fortune 500 company. That may mean serving your family in love daily. That is between each woman and God.

3) Women are not second-class citizens.

Women are not to be ashamed of being female. We were designed specifically by God to be the helpmate of man.

We live in a fallen world, and as such, people sin. Throughout history women have not been treated as equals—not because God is mean, but because man sins. The Bible is very clear that men are to “love their wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). He designed us for His glory.

We are the exact match to man’s job of glorifying God. While man does it through sacrifice, we do it through submission.

Christ submitted to His Father and died on the cross for our sins. Both are necessary to show the true magnitude of Christ’s death for our sins, a debt we could never have paid on our own.

Don’t give up on being the woman that God has called you to be. Stand firm in your faith and fulfil the role that God made you for, whatever that may be.

How can you better follow God's road map for women today?

Morgan Farr is an Army wife currently stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with her wonderful husband Brian and their sons, William and Henry. Morgan is a homemaker who dedicates her free time to ministering to other Army wives through Bible studies, one-on-one interactions and physical training. She writes about her transition out of feminism and into biblical womanhood on her blog, The Forgiven Former Feminist. You can find her thoughts on fitness, C-Section recovery, and training programs on her other blog, Farr Functional Fitness.

Thursday
Jul142016

Summertime

I asked Kathy Carlton Willis to write a summertime post for UPGRADE, and she reminded me of the old song we belt out: “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.”

“Ever wish you could play hooky from everyday life?” Kathy asks.

Hooky? Yes, I (Dawn) need some hooky time! Responsibilities are great and I'm not a shirker. But there comes a time ...

Kathy continues . . .

Little Johnny tossed a water balloon at Billy. A normal reaction from the teacher would be to reprimand Johnny, but this was not a normal day.

Miss Jones cheered from the sidelines. Billy fell to the ground with laughter. The boys high-fived each other, and the next team lined up to enjoy this fun in the sun.

Outdoor activities commonly end the school year because kids are antsy during regular teaching sessions. Aware of this, teachers plan field trips and outdoor activities. And when they don’t, the students daydream of playing hooky.

Well, school has been out for a while, but I feel like those students.

I also have a bit of wanderlust going on. It is difficult to concentrate. Maybe because vacations are often scheduled for June, July, and August, my daydreamer is programmed to go into overdrive during these months. We long to take the pressure off and just live.

No matter what our plans include, I hope we all plan to keep God in our days. God makes everything seem better. The sky is bluer and the grass is greener.

As we focus on His goodness we have a better perspective on life. And with a keen awareness of His presence, we realize we don’t have to face anything alone.

The Creator of summer creates a sense of freedom in our hearts when we trust in Him.

The best promise of all is that even when we take a break from our everyday humdrum lives, God never takes a break.

“He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps” (Psalm 121:3-4, NLT).

Most of us are not Israelites, but the concept holds true for New Testament Christians as well. Our God is an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God who is fully capable of being a vital part of His creation without the need of a vacation.

But for me—I hear a nap calling.

How to Make the Most of Summer:

  • Refresh and recharge so you’re geared up for fall.
  • Spend some time evaluating your 2016 goals, and redirect any that need a new focus.
  • Truly rest, in every sense of the word, not merely physical rest.
  • If you’ve gotten off track, recommit to your purpose, with a new drive to motivate you on your journey.
  • Soak in God’s nature and allow extra time with Him and His creation to rejuvenate you.

A special summertime prayer:

Lord, thank You for the seasons You created for us to enjoy: for the warmth of summer, the fresh smell of flowers and the sun-kissed cheeks of children. I’m blessed to see Your handiwork all around me—You’re never sleeping or taking a break—but always keeping watch over me. Thank You!

What is one thing you look forward to this summer?

Kathy Carlton Willis enjoys fiddling with words as writer's coach and marketing pro at KCW Communications and founded WordGirls for Christian female writers. She’s published in multiple books, magazines and online publications. Kathy gets jazzed inspiring others to have their own lightbulb moments and shines, whether she's spotlighting God's writers and speakers, or reflecting God's light during her speaking events. Kathy wrote Speaker to Speaker: The Essential Speaker’s Companion and Grin with Grace. Discover more about Kathy at her website.

Tuesday
Jul122016

Never Say, 'Go Clean Your Room!'

Marcia Ramsland is one of the most organized women I know. But those organization skills aren't just for grown-ups. In this Organization UPGRADE, Marcia explains how we can teach our children good habits too.

Marcia asks, "Did your mother ever tell you 'Go Clean Your Room'? If your Mom was like mine, probably 'Yes.'"

Oh, Marcia. Where were you when I (Dawn) needed you years ago with my little boys? I never practiced organization skills as a young mom myself, so it was almost impossible to teach my youngsters.

Marcia continues . . .

Today ia good time to take Mom up on it . . . no matter what your age is!

And after you clean up your own room, it's a good idea to organize your child or grandchild's room with them.

You see, training children is 50% by example and 50% by teaching them how to do everyday chores so they become habits leading to life success. 

Your daily training leads to the goal in Proverbs 31:28: “Her children arise and call her blessed.” That comes by consistent modeling and patient teaching as they grow up in the only world they can can control – their room.

5 Steps to Clean Any Room —   

For Yourself and Your Child

Practice these five steps consistently and eventually it will become a consistent habit. You always get to start over on the weekend with children if they have a particularly busy week.

Step 1: Make the bed first.

Since this is the largest visible surface, the room is now 60-70% clean! Choose a comforter that is easy to pull up without showing wrinkles.

Step 2: Put everything away on the floor.

Start at the doorway and work toward the bed and nightstand until everything is put away.

Step 3: Clean up everything by three categories:

  • Clothes – Put dirty clothes in a hamper or clothes bag in the closet. A trek to a bathroom hamper is too distracting to stay on task.
  • Papers – Start by cleaning up the nightstand and dresser. Arrange books neatly on a bookshelf and organize papers into binders and folders.
  • Collections and Toys: Display collections or toys on shelves, take a picture before changing it to make room for their next interest, and declutter often.

Step 4: Focus on one extra cleaning area.

Organize the desktop, dresser, nightstand, or closet on a weekend or vacation day. The front 2/3 of every surface should be clear.

Step 5: Empty the wastebasket often.

Keep a medium size one near their desk and have the child empty it weekly.

Final Steps:

See their room as they do by laying down on their bed and looking around. Is it a pleasant place including their personality and interests, or does it reflect neglect and disorganization that you can improve?

Put up inspiring pictures of your child doing a favorite activity, and add a recent family picture so your child will always know they are special and belong in the family.

Then walk down the hallway to your room and look at what your child sees you model. A child will live like you do, so make your bed, organize your dressers, and put away laundry and other clutter before you start on their room.

A wise woman does build her home starting with her own bedroom. (Proverbs 14:1)

Now you never have to tell your child, “Go clean your room.” Instead give your child one of the five steps above to do before their favorite TV show or computer game and it will get done.

What a great way to help your child succeed in life by having an inspiring, clean room as their “home base.”

Which of the three points under Step 3 is the biggest clutter area in your child's room? In your room? What can you do right now to get that clutter under control?

Marcia Ramsland is the leading Online Organizing Coach for Business and Life Success. A former teacher and parent herself, she is the author of the booklet and online course “Ages and Stages of Getting Children Organized.” She was intereviewed on Martha Stewart radio for this topic and believes any family can get more organized to create harmony at home. Details at www.organizingpro.com/agesandstages.

Thursday
Jul072016

To Tell the Truth

Deb DeArmond loves to build strong relationships, especially marriage relationshps. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she reminds us how "truth" can strengthen and empower any relationship.

“It’s not always easy to tell the truth," Deb says. "The truth can sting, bruise or even break a heart. And we may worry about the impact it will have on someone we deeply love ... like our spouse.”

This is something I (Dawn) have debated with many people. Truth must always win out, but there's a way to be honest that will honor God.

Deb continues . . .

July 7 is National Tell the Truth Day. I’m sure God expects it to happen more often than just one day each year. And He has a lot to say on the matter of truthfulness—how to do it, why to do it, and the price of failing to do it. 

Telling the truth is a lesson we learned early in life. Mama and Daddy, the Sunday school teacher and every adult we knew reminded us of the importance of truth-telling.

And children are often known for telling the whole truth—sometimes to the chagrin of their parents, who hadn’t counted on a personal family moment being shared with the pastor or the next-door neighbor!

As adults, however, the truth can feel more complicated.

  • “Oh, it’s okay. It’s no big deal.” (He has no idea how it hurt me. Again.)
  • “What she doesn’t know can’t hurt her.” (Maybe someone else will tell her.)
  • “I’ll just let it go.” (It’s not worth the effort or thought required.)
  • “Sure. That’s fine with me.” (Forget it. She won’t listen anyway.)

It’s easy to convince ourselves that it would be too uncomfortable for the other person to hear the truth.

More likely, we’re the ones who aren’t comfortable. We may be unsure the relationship is strong enough to withstand honesty. Experience might suggest the truth is not welcome or perhaps it’s has been used as a battering ram in the past.

No wonder we simply let ourselves off the hook—even with our husband or wife. It’s easier.

The Word is clear about the truth:

“But speaking the truth in love, you may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15 NKJV).

And there’s the rub. The truth is to be spoken, no question about that. But it’s always to be done in love.

Without love, it’s just a set of facts, information, data. And data often fails to inspire, encourage, motivate, or move the heart to understanding. And what’s a marriage with out understanding?

In the research for our book on marital conflict, we discovered that many couples have surrendered—no longer telling one another the truth. They’d rather live what was described as “living compatibly” than to trouble the waters in what they feared would be conflict they couldn’t contain.

Conflict isn’t the problem. It’s how we handle conflict that determines whether the end result is discovery or damage.

We often regard confrontation as aggressive. It doesn’t have to be.

Confronting one another in love restores connection. It says, “I love you enough to fight along side you for our marriage.” Your marriage has an enemy, but it’s not your spouse.

Just because there’s quiet in the house doesn’t mean there’s peace. God wants so much more for our marriages and our lives.

So why not make a fresh commitment to the truth today—with yourself and your spouse. No fudging on facts. No little white lies.

Love will make the way.

What truth is overdue today? How can you wrap it in love?

Deb DeArmond’s passion is family—not just her own, but the relationships within families in general. Her books provide tools, tips and biblical perspective to build sound relationships within marriage, as parents, and extended family-including mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Deb and her husband of 41 years, Ron, live in the Fort Worth area. For more about Deb and her books visit her "Family Matters" site.