Hot off the press!

[Bios on Partners Page]

Lina AbuJamra

Sue Badeau

Dianne Barker

Twila Belk

Gail Bones

Harriet Bouchillon

Mary Carver

Pamela Christian

Lisa Copen

Erin Davis

Diane Dean

Deb DeArmond

Kelly DeChant

Danna Demetre

Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Melissa Edgington

Pat Ennis

Morgan Farr

Pam Farrel

Renee Fisher

Sheila Gregoire

Doreen Hanna

Holly Hanson

Debbie Harris

Paula Hendricks

Nali Hilderman

Cathy Horning

Kathy Howard

Mary James

Priscilla Jenson

Lane P. Jordan

Rebecca Jordan

Ellie Kay

Maria Keckler

Sylvia Lange

Debby Lennick

Peggy Leslie

Kathi Lipp

Kathi Macias

Melissa Mashburn

Dianne Matthews

Cindi McMenamin

Kathy Collard Miller

Lynn Mosher

Karen O'Connor

Arlene Pellicane

Ava Pennington

Laura Petherbridge

Gail Purath

Marcia Ramsland

Rhonda Rhea

Vonda Rhodes

Charlotte Riegel

Cynthia Ruchti

Julie Sanders

Deedra Scherm

Judy Scharfenberg

Stephanie Shott

Poppy Smith

Stacie Stoelting

Jill Swanson

Janet Thompson

Janice Thompson

Teri Thompson

Brittany Van Ryn

Leslie Vernick

Laurie Wallin

Julie Watson

Joan C. Webb

Cherri Williamson

Kathy C. Willis

Jamie Wood

Dawn Wilson

 

Wednesday
Mar252015

The Day the Dryer Died

Deedra Scherm is a wife and parent with tremendous creativity and a sense of adventure. As she explains in this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, sometimes the challenges in our lives need some help from outside.

“A biblical man helped me with my laundry,” Deedra said, “and some other life challenges too!”

When I (Dawn) read that statement, I wondered who that "biblical man" might be! But knowing Deedra, I knew I was about to get a valuable lesson.

Deedra continues . . .

So the other day the dryer broke.  And perhaps it wouldn't have been so bad if I was already caught up with the laundry loads, but I'd let a few days slip by.  

The repair part was quickly put on order. It would be almost a week before it arrived and my husband and youngest son watched the youtube video that helped them take it apart and put that glorious contraption back together.  

And then washing began.  There were clothes everywhere . . . lined up in the hall next to the laundry room, folded over the backs of every chair and spread over every couch, sitting outside the doors of the boys' room, and across every bed.

Of course, while focusing on the piles of laundry, I sort of neglected other housekeeping items like vacuuming, dusting and dishes. My house was a mess. Y'all, it was a "if-child-protectective-services-came-for-a-visit-they-might-take-your-kids-away" mess.  

I know it's just supposed to be laundry but I just WANTED. TO. STOP.

I was tired and feeling like a mom who didn't even know how to keep her house clean for her kids and family! Other people don't live like this, right? It's just laundry!

Do you ever feel like that in other areas of your life? I do. I often battle with knowing what things I think I should do and then actually being able to do them. Whether it's cleaning the house, eating better, exercising more, preparing my kids, or excelling creatively in my work. Maybe I'm just too old, or too tired, or just inadequate to tackle the job in front of me.  

I asked God to show me what I needed to learn in this area. And then I started to read and learn more about a man in the Bible who seemed to know how to "clean house."

Caleb was this guy who, when everyone else around him seemed to have trouble moving forward, he didn't. When there was something to be done, he could.

The problems of fear and fatigue and inadequacy didn't seem to slow him—even when he might have had reasons to fall back on those things.  Yep. That's what I want.

So this is what I found:

Caleb believed that when God calls, He provides.

That's it. Just fully believing that when God calls, He provides.

The story of Caleb inspires me. I saw this theme through the story of Caleb's life. I saw him facing and overcoming some of the feelings I face.

I've been applying Caleb's example to my life, and have discovered when God calls me to do something and I fully trust Him to provide, three things are true:

1) Trust Dulls the Fear of Failure.  

In Exodus, when the Israelites were freed from slavery and headed to the land they had been promised, a group went in and reported back about the land. Most all of the men felt they couldn't go in because of the "giants" there. They were afraid. But Caleb knew God was with them. He told the people, "do not be afraid" (Numbers 14:9). 

Caleb fully trusted God and that gave him the ability to move forward . . . without anxiety.    

2) Trust Lessens the Fight of Fatigue.

After the people entered the Promised Land, the land was divided up among the twelve tribes. Caleb— who was over 80 years old!—was given land that still had enemies Israel needed to drive out. Knowing this was God's calling, Caleb said, "I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then" (Joshua 14:11).

Caleb fully trusted God and that gave him the strength to move forward . . . without being weary.

3) Trust Dissolves the Frenzy of Feeling Inadequate.  

Caleb could have looked around and compared himself to others, but he didn't need to. He already knew he was "different" and there was no need to compare.

God said, "Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly" (Numbers 14:24).

It's because of that difference Caleb inherited the land and was able to drive out the enemies—which, by the way, none of the others were able to do.  

Caleb fully trusted God and that gave him the ability to move forward . . . without feeling less-than.

Caleb went wholeheartedly into the land and drove out the enemy. If the others had cleaned out their land as God asked, they would have had security and peace.

Is there a place in your life that needs some attention or cleaning up? A place you have neglected? Maybe God has put on your heart a relationship that needs to be addressed. Perhaps it's a change in your work or a book that needs writing. Maybe it's a habit that needs breaking, or forgiveness that needs giving.  

What has God called you to do but fear, fatigue or comparison has kept you from moving forward?

Don't look around at others, look up to God.

Make a decision today to wholeheartedly trust God, believing, "If He calls, He will provide." Just like He did for Caleb. Set your eyes on God, and trust that He will give you strength.

Even if you are floating on a sea of dirty laundry.  

Did you identify an area of your life that needs some attention?

Deedra Scherm lives in Dallas with her husband and three boys. Between homeschooling and writing, she’s on constant watch for “parents night out” so she and her hubby can get one of those things called a date night. You can find Deedra’s  bestselling book, The ABC Bible Verse Book, and other books and DVDs at lemonvision.com or amazon.com.

Monday
Mar232015

What Is Your 'Sack Lunch'?

Paula Hendricks is a young woman with a tremendous amount of insight about things that truly matter. I asked her to share this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE.

“A few years ago, I sensed God prompting me to give away a very large sum of money,” Paula said. “I did so joyfully and thought there wasn’t anything more God could possibly ask for after that.”

Oh yes. God does ask for more. And I (Dawn) am often surprised by what He asks for. He knows exactly what to ask for.

Paula continues . . .

Almost immediately, though, God laid His finger on my favorite dress—the maxi dress that pooled at my feet and made me feel tall, slender, and beautiful.

I cried.

Somehow, unbeknownst to me, that dress had wormed its way into my affections and become precious! (Definitely a warning sign.)

So I bargained with God. The dress was His, but He’d have to clearly let me know who to give it to. A month passed, and then I sensed God nudging me that it was time to give it away, and who to give it to.

It happened while the preacher was talking about how that little boy gave his sack lunch to Jesus and how Jesus multiplied it exorbitantly. 

The preacher asked if we would give our “sack lunch” to Jesus.

Right away, I knew my “sack lunch” was my beautiful maxi dress. And I was to give it to the widow beside me, who was just as tall and thin as me and needed clothes.

Trembling, I went home and put my dress in a bag. I knew if I didn’t obey right away, I would come up with excuses. That evening, I gave away my dress.

Unlike the month before when I gave a much larger gift to God, I didn’t feel giddy and happy this time. But I felt I’d obeyed.

A few weeks later, as I was pulling out my fall and winter clothes, I asked God, “Would you provide me with some new clothes? I’ve had these for years, and they’re so drab. I know I don’t need new clothes, and I should be thankful for these, but . . .”

The next morning, I received an email from a friend. She had two bags of clothes for me in her car. I went out to the car expecting to find two plastic grocery bags full. Instead, I found two bulging trash bags full of clothes! 

And not just any clothes. Clothes with tags still on them. Name brand clothes. Stylish clothes. Clothes that—for the most part—fit!

It was such an overwhelming reminder that I can never out-give God. He is the over-the-top generous One.

And I’m not the only person who’s experienced this. Years ago, a woman named Hannah wanted a baby so bad she vowed that if God would give her a son, she would give him back to the Lord all the days of his life. And that’s exactly what happened. God gave her a son, and she brought him to the temple to serve God there. Sounds devastatingly hard, right? But then . . . God blessed her with three more sons and two more daughters (1 Sam. 2:21)! He’s just amazing like that. 

I tell you all this not to encourage you to give away your clothes so you’ll get new ones. I tell you this to encourage you to obey God. Even if what He’s asking hurts. Even if He’s asking for that most treasured ____.

He’s not a stingy, miserly God. If you will obey Him, He will bless you beyond your wildest imagination!

Anyone else have a “sack lunch” story you want to share?

Paula Hendricks graduated from the Moody Bible Institute in 2005 with a degree in Print Communication. Two weeks later, she began working at Revive Our Hearts, where she currently serves as Writing and Editorial Manager. Her first book is Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl. When Paula isn’t blogging, you’ll find her hanging out with people, indulging her insatiable curiosity by asking lots of questions. 

This post is adapted from “My Sack Lunch” at Lies Young Women Believe. 

Thursday
Mar192015

Leadership: A Tale of Two Cities

Nali Hilderman’s love of women’s history and Christian theology gives her an impassioned desire to help women make a difference in today’s culture. In this Leadership UPGRADE, she challenges our thinking.

“While there are many different theories regarding leadership,” Nali says, “there are some key differences between how the world defines it and how the Bible defines it.”

I (Dawn) love to read leadership blogs—both Christian and secular, and I know she is right. A biblical perspective on leadership not only changes our motives; it also changes our methodology.

Nali continues . . .

In the fifth century, Saint Augustine wrote a now famous treatise titled “The City of God.” Augustine explained some key differences between the rule and attitude of the “city of man”— ruling empires of the world—and the “city of God” (which is made up of the followers of Christ and His church). 

This idea of comparison can be applied to theories related to leadership in today’s modern world. While there are many different theories regarding leadership, there are some key differences between how the world defines it and how the Bible defines it.

Colossians 2:8 commands us not to be taken captive by philosophies of this world, but rather to focus on Christ.

As Christ’s followers it is wise for us to understand these distinctions and seek to live out the principles of the City of God in our leadership.

Distinction #1

The City of Man considers power over others as a key component of leadership. Society tends to laud those who are wealthy, powerful and successful as leaders.

However, the City of God considers serving others as the key component of leadership. Christ admonished His disciples when they asked who will be the greatest among them. He told them they are not to rule as the Gentiles do. He says that the last shall be first in the Kingdom of Heaven and that He Himself did not come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:24-28). 

Ask yourself, “How am I using my leadership in regard to others? Am I lauding my power over others, or am I serving others for their betterment?

Distinction #2

The City of Man considers influence as a key descriptor of leadership. Society tends to value the number of blog posts, YouTube views, Twitter followers, and albums sold as indicators for who is “leading.” Often, leaders in the City of Man wield their influence for selfish and worldly gain. 

While the City of God also values influence as a key component of leadership, the purposes driving influence are wholly different.

We are not to lead for selfish gain, but are commanded in scripture to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought.

Also we are to pursue compassion, love, righteousness, and truth (Philippians 2:3-5, Colossians 3:12-15).

In his book, Creation Regained: A Reformational Worldview, author Albert Wolters challenges:

"Anything in creation can be directed either toward or away from God—that is, directed either in obedience or disobedience to His law. *

As you lead today, take time to reflect on whether your leadership is turning people towards fulfilling their own selfish ambition or towards a spirit of love and truth.

How you are wielding power and influence in the lives of others? Have you been “taken captive” by the world’s philosophy of leadership, or are you a woman pursuing the City of God and leading others in a biblical way?

Nali Hilderman is a professor of American history at San Diego Christian College and Director the college’s Dr. Henry Morris Leadership Program. She studies women’s history and Christian theology, trying to make sense of how to be a confident, successful Christian woman who does not buy into the secular feminist mentality. She attends Journey Community Church in La Mesa, California.

* Albert M. Wolters, Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2005), p. 49.

Monday
Mar162015

Anger Expert or Patience Pro?

Kathy Collard Miller is an author and speaker who encourages women to trust God. In this Attitude UPGRADE, she helps us trust the Lord with an attitude that can be destructive:  Anger! 

“Why do I keep getting angry?" Kathy said. "I want to be patient, but life and people are aggravating."

I (Dawn) used to think anger was other people's problem. I didn't have a problem losing my temper.

But if we have an undercurrent of anger, it can burst forth in other problems like bitterness, an unforgiving spirit or even something as simple as avoiding people.

Kathy continues . . . 

Life and people are aggravating. We pray for patience, but as someone has said, “Don’t pray for patience; God will give you many opportunities to practice.”

That was certainly true for me.

For many years, I was an anger expert. It was my “go-to” response. I prayed for deliverance but I still was destructively angry. In moments of temptation, I felt helpless and believed I didn’t have a choice.

But the truth is, anger is a choice.

Holding ourselves responsible rather than excusing our destructive reaction will lay a foundation for slowing down our reactions and allowing God to show us alternatives.

How can we “slow down”? When life (or someone) throws something aggravating at us, we need to literally take a deep breath and ask ourselves, “What’s going on here?”

Here are three causes of anger that you can consider in that moment.

1. Anger comes from having a goal blocked.

When we desire a certain thing and someone does something or says something that blocks that desire, we react in frustration. Unfortunately, this only means that that “certain thing” has become more important than God. We are choosing a destructive reaction to make sure we receive what we think we need and we’re not trusting that God can provide it for us.

We don’t have to force anything to happen when we truly believe God will provide what we need. He promises in Philippians 4:19:

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

In that moment of “slowing down,” ask yourself, “Is there something I value that I think is being withheld? If so, can I choose to trust that God will provide what’s best for me according to His plan?”

2. Anger’s source could be a fear of being seen a certain negative way.

Since childhood, I’ve been very sensitive to not appearing stupid. That seems horrible to me. So when someone treats or responds to me with what seems like a suggestion that I’m stupid or don’t know something, I can become angry.

Why does anger seem like a solution? Because my anger points to something they do wrong and it takes the focus off of my “stupidity.”

Sometimes, my husband, Larry, will sincerely ask me, “What were you thinking when you did that?” What do I “hear”? “You must have been stupid to choose that.” I’m embarrassed and feel shamed. So what do I do? Point the finger back onto him with an angry response by rehearsing some way that he did something wrong. But I can choose differently in God’s power.

In that moment of “slowing down,” ask yourself, “Is there some way I don’t want to be seen right now?" Regardless of how I’m viewed by others, God views me as His daughter through my inheritance in Christ, as Ephesians 1 says.

3. Anger may erupt from not knowing what else to do.

For instance, when my two-year-old disobeyed me, I felt helpless, not knowing how to respond. But forming a plan beforehand empowered me to have options. I wrote down in a column the primary ways my strong-willed daughter disobeyed me. Then in the opposite column, I wrote out one consequence I could give for each disobedience. I then posted the paper where I could see it. Having options removed my helpless feeling, and my anger.

Of course, we can’t anticipate every situation of life that might come our way, but we can try to plan as much as possible with God’s wisdom.

Then in that moment of “slowing down,” ask yourself, “What options do I have? Lord, enlighten my thinking right now. You promise in James 1:5 to give me wisdom.”

God used an awareness of these three possible causes of anger to transform my responses. I actually did become more patient . . . and wise.

Which of those three sources cause your anger most often and how does God want to use that knowledge to empower you to be more patient?

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. Kathy’s latest book is Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today (Leafwood) from which this article has been adapted. Check it out at http://amzn.to/1ITmLfy. Visit Kathy's website/blog at www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. 

Thursday
Mar122015

Raising Fearless Children in a Fear-Filled World

I've always been impressed with Julie Watson's godly approach to life. In this Parenting UPGRADE, she tackles the topic of children and fear.

“Spiders used to scare my children," Julie said. "Now, they get names and are considered family pets!”   

LOL! I (Dawn) don't think I'd ever name a spider, but I love Julie's story and the blessing she has already been to little ones who needed her to help them understand how to trust God.

Julie continues…

When my three amazing, foster children entered my life seven months ago, they were absolutely terrified of everything: the dark, being alone, new people, new places, and, of course, spiders to name a few.

For someone who had wasted ten years of her life living in fear, I could relate. I recalled what God taught me before I was delivered from my fear, but as a new mom I wasn’t sure how to teach my children the same in an age-appropriate way.

For me, after being diagnosed with a slow growing form of ovarian cancer at age 27, I lived in fear every day that the cancer would return.

The sad part is that I had (audibly) heard God say to me, “You’ll never go through this again,” after receiving my diagnosis. I knew that still, small voice was God’s. I knew it, but the more I thought about it, doubt began to creep in and questioned it. I questioned it every day for 10 years.

On the 10th anniversary of my surgery, I got down on my face before God and begged Him to remove the fear that had kept me in bondage.

I had an instant healing! Immediately I received peace that the words spoken to me in the hospital all those years before were indeed His; I had nothing to fear. I walked out of my room that day free from my fear and I never looked back.   

Considering all the years I wasted, I didn’t want my kids to wait to learn to trust God.

I started with small things: spiders!

“God made spiders,” I reasoned, “to help keep the bug population down. Would you prefer to have more bugs or less bugs?” I asked.

"Less."

“Then, you have to see that God’s purpose for spiders is good—as He gives everything a purpose, including you!”

Long story short, after about two months of showing the children how nice spiders are, the kids stopped screaming every time they saw a Daddy Longlegs.

Last month the kids actually started giving names to the spiders and call for us all to come meet our new “pet.” To this day, Blackie, a family favorite, still has his home set up in a corner of our sunroom. 

With kids you start with the small stuff and then move on to the more difficult as their faith grows.

Here are the steps I have been using that can free us if we are living in fear. 

1) Believe God’s Word is true.

Whether He has audibly spoken to you or has talked to you in prayer or through His Word, know this: It is true! (2 Timothy 3:16; Psalm 119:105

2) Don’t doubt God by listening to the lies of the enemy.

Put on the full armor of God and protect your heart, mind and spirit. (Ephesians 6:11-13)

3) Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

As a child of God you have the power of the Almighty’s name—the most powerful thing in the universe. Use it! If you can’t think of anything else to say, just say "Jesus" and the enemy must leave! (James 4:7, 2 Timothy 1:7)

4) God’s plans for you are perfect and He will always see them through to fruition.

Even though life is not always easy, God will never leave or forsake you. He will walk beside you to see His purpose fulfilled in and through you! (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 121)

And, yes, in case you’re wondering . . . as of today, my kids are no longer afraid of spiders, the dark, being alone, going to new places or meeting new people, as long as we have prepared them a bit and reminded them why there is no reason to fear when Jesus lives in our hearts.

Are you fearful of something and living in bondage? How will you protect yourself from the enemy and find freedom from fear today?

Julie Watson worked in children’s ministries for 10 years and as a Grant writer before becoming a stay-at-home mom to three beautiful children. She and her husband, Shawn know these children were hand-picked by God to be their own, and plan to adopt them as soon as they are legally allowed.