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Joan C. Webb

Cherri Williamson

Kathy C. Willis

Jamie Wood

Dawn Wilson

 

Thursday
Aug272015

'Personal Trainers' for the Next Generation

Do you have what it takes to be a personal trainer? In this Parenting UPGRADE, Holly Hanson, founder of Moms Inc. at Shadow Mountain Community Church, tells us why the job doesn’t demand spandex—it demands spirituality!

“As Moms, training up the next generation is the only job we actually are required by God to do,” Holly says. “The Bible does not command us to clean our homes—can I get an “Amen”?—it does not compel us to make gourmet dinners, it does not even charge us with the responsibility of making sure our kids go to school in the most expensive jeans or latest clothing fashions.”   

So what's the mandate? I (Dawn) think parental training is a hefty job description, but Holly says it is all possible by simply following the road map laid out in the Bible.

She continues . . .

What the Bible DOES mandate is found in Proverbs 22:6:

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (KJV).

1. It says to “train up.”

“When I think about training, I picture an Olympic gymnast training for the gold medal. She didn’t start as strong as she is now. She listened to advice, she studied her craft and she modeled the examples of the greats who came before her.

Our kids are like that gymnast, and we are their spiritual gold-medal trainers.

2. Notice, it does not say “your” child—it says “a” child.

That means we also have a responsibility to our grandchildren, the children of our friends, those at our church, and those in our neighborhoods and our extended families. We have a responsibility to model the behavior and impart the values the Bible gives us, wherever God has granted us influence.

3. We should train up that child in the way he should go.

How do we know the way he should go? It all comes down to our own training.

We aren’t born with deep knowledge of God’s Word. In fact, the Bible clearly spells out that we are born “desperately wicked” with dark, sinful hearts.

 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, KJV)

God says we are like sheep who have all gone astray on our own. It’s only through Jesus’ blood and His salvation of our own wicked lives that we are even able to do any good in the lives of others.

But the salvation is just the first part of the equation. God gives us one (or more) spiritual gifts the very minute we are saved, and He expects us to develop and use them. Some of the gifts you may possess could include: Administration, discernment, evangelism, exhortation, faith, giving, knowledge, leadership, mercy, pastor, prophecy, serving, teaching and wisdom.

4. And when he is old, he shall not depart from it.

This brings us to the next generation: US! 

The Bible tells women they are responsible to influence not only the children in this world, but also to influence and train each other.

"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:3-5, NIV).

Do you feel like you are ready to share some of your knowledge and training with another woman? If not, do you know someone who is older or further in their faith than you—someone you can learn from?

It’s a long process to maturity.

We need to spend time with our mentors, ask questions, serve under their leadership and watch and imitate what they do.

Our churches will die if there is not a continual line of leaders trained and ready to step into service.

And just because you may be a mom with little ones, don’t think that gives you a pass from growing at this stage in your life. If you don’t start now, you may miss an opportunity in the future because you haven’t done the groundwork to be spiritually mature and ready for it.

I want to challenge you to be ready. Train yourself first. You can’t pass on what you don’t know. You can’t know unless you learn. Time to get started!

How can you become a better “personal trainer” in a child’s life?

Holly Hanson is a veteran Emmy Award-winning journalist who finds her calling in her family motto: “Love God, Serve Others.” Holly has written and produced internationally for Women of Faith, Turning Point Ministries, and locally with KFMB-TV, KFMB-AM and KPBS Radio. She is married and is a mom, step-mom and step-grandma. Holly is active at Shadow Mountain Community Church, serving on the Women's Ministries Council, singing in the choir, and running Moms Inc., a ministry she founded and directs.  

Tuesday
Aug252015

How to Create a Stronger 'Sibling Bond'

Sue Badeau, a child welfare and trauma expert, knows a lot about encouraging children. She and her husband parented 22 children (20 are adopted)! In this Parenting UPGRADE, Sue challenges us with a riddle.

“What is the longest lasting relationship most people experience in their lifetime?” Sue says. “If your answer involved a parent, spouse or friend, you’ve missed the mark. For most people, the longest lasting relationship in their life is with a sibling (or two, or more).”

Even after years of separation, my (Dawn’s) sister and I have a sweet relationship. But it wasn’t without some ups and downs. I wish I’d known Sue’s tips for creating a stronger sibling bond.

Sue continues . . .

Scripture reminds us of the preciousness of these relationships in Psalm 133:1:

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”

As a parent of twenty-two, I know when the ‘dog days’ of summer stretch lethargically before us, we may feel like we are raising Abel and Cain, or Joseph and his brothers—nothing really pleasant about it!

Do you ever feel like the sibling relationships in your household need a little upgrading?

While there is no “I” in team, I have found three “I’s” are essential in building and nurturing positive sibling relationships in a family, whether the family is created by birth, adoption, step-parenting or foster care, and whether or not any of the children have unique special needs.

These bond-building essentials are:

1. Individualize

Each child needs to be valued as an individual, not simply as one of the group. Siblings will be less likely to fight and more inclined to get along when they each individually know they are cherished for who they are.

Make sure every child has some private time and space. Plan one-on-one time with each child. 

For example, I always took a different child grocery shopping, and my husband took a different child to breakfast each Saturday morning. This not only gave us time together, it gave the children needed breaks from one another.

Private space might be a “footlocker” or dresser drawer where a child can keep a few treasured items that do not have to be shared.

2. Incorporate Interests

Mix and match children for activities in a variety of ways. Pair children up by interests rather than always by age or gender, and give them opportunities to work on tasks together (such as making dessert, washing the car or decorating the porch for a celebration). 

A shared accomplishment often becomes a foundation for a strong sibling relationship.

We had a teenage son and a six-year-old daughter who both enjoyed tap dancing, so we signed them up for lessons together. Another pairing matched a disabled older teen with a younger brother teaching each other computer skills. Many years later, these siblings share special memories and bonds.

3. Include Everyone

Each child needs to feel connected to the whole family. Create opportunities for bonds to grow between siblings who are often rivals.

“Catch” them getting along and frame that photo as a reminder of good times. 

Invite children to create a “last week of summer” family night, planning board games, snacks or other activities designed to bring the whole family together. Practice “planned spontaneity.” Announce a “backwards day” (breakfast for dinner) or jump in the car for a mystery ride to a park you’ve never visited.

When family members find themselves in new situations, sibling connections can blossom in creative and fun ways.

What are some of your fondest sibling memories? How can you recreate these precious moments with your own children?

Sue Badeau is a nationally known speaker, author, and child welfare and trauma expert. Sue and her husband Hector are lifetime parents of twenty-two children—two by birth and twenty adopted. They wrote the book Are We There Yet: The Ultimate Road Trip Adopting and Raising 22 Kids. Learn more about Sue at suebadeau.com and badeaufamily.com.

Saturday
Aug082015

Help, Lord ... She Has Breast Cancer!

Janet Thompson is a three-time breast cancer survivor, but that’s not her complete identity. She is a godly woman with incredible wisdom for the body of Christ, and in this extended Ministry UPGRADE, she helps us with a sometimes-scary topic.

“It’s hard to know what to say or do when a friend or relative drops the bombshell news that she has breast cancer,” Janet said. “Often our natural response is to recoil and retreat.”

I (Dawn) don’t know about you, but sometimes my heart moves me to share with people who are hurting—people I dearly love—but fearful thoughts hold me back. Janet’s practical wisdom will help us minister with strength and compassion.

(Keep reading to see why the little lamb in that picture is so meaningful!)

Janet continues . . .

Maybe it’s the fear of facing our own mortality or the time and emotion required if we do get involved. We ease our conscience by thinking: she would rather be alone right now anyway. Or she needs her family at a time like this. Or she has so many friends; I know someone will help her.

We may send a card or make a call offering to help, closing with “I’ll be praying for you,” then on we go about our life while her life crumbles. Yet the Bible clearly tells us,

“Help each other in troubles and problems. This is the kind of law Christ asks us to obey” (Galatians 6:2 NLV).

How can we put that verse into practical terms? Here are some ways my friends and family came along side me during my initial breast cancer journey and two recurrences.

Helping with the Bad Days

1. Don’t Just Offer to Help—Do Something Tangible.

When asked the generic question, “How can I help you?” our common response is, “I’m fine, but thank you for asking.” Truthfully, we need everything but are afraid to ask.

Another well-meaning comment I received was, “Just call me if you need anything.” Now how many women are going to pick up the phone and ask for help, especially if they are not feeling well?

So instead of offering to help—just jump in and do something. 

  • Schedule her friends, family, and church to bring meals. Use your lunch break to take her lunch and eat with her.
  • Offer to drive her to doctor’s appointments or treatments and take notes for her.
  • Shuttle her kids to and from school or find someone who can.
  • Sit with her during chemo treatments or accompany her to radiation. Talk, read a book to her, or just hold her hand.
  • Take her children on a play date or to your house.
  • Do her laundry.
  • Do her grocery shopping. If she is too sick to dictate a list, take an inventory of her refrigerator and cupboards and make your own list.
  • Answer her email.
  • Bring her a gift that makes her feel feminine.
  • If she feels like talking, sit and chat with her. When she doesn’t feel like talking, just be a presence in her home so she doesn’t feel alone.
  • Babysit her kids so she and her husband can have some private time.
  • Clean her house or pay someone to do it.
  • Go with her to pick out a wig or prosthesis.
  • Pick up prescriptions.
  • Run errands.

 2. Don’t Say, “I’ll Pray For You,” Unless You Mean It.

A promise to pray isn’t just a feel good phrase. We are telling someone that we will petition God on her behalf, and we are living falsely if we don’t. I find it’s best to stop in the moment and pray right then. It keeps me honest and blesses the other person.

Helping Her Enjoy the Good Days

1. Be Happy with Her When She’s Happy.

Cancer is a grim word. Overnight life becomes serious, tense, and laden with fear. Capitalize on the moments when there is an opportunity to laugh or smile. Be ready, because it may only last a moment, but the break from pain and fear is immeasurable.

Avoid topics that you know will bring her down. You aren’t minimizing or making light of the seriousness of the situation, but you are giving her a recess from the intensity. Don't fake happiness, but take advantage of humorous or lighter moments. Don’t let the serious eclipse the humorous.

2. Nurture the Little Girl Inside Her.

The nurse in charge of the breast-care unit gave me a white stuffed toy sheep named “Fleece.” Taking Fleece with me everywhere, I held him as a shield in front of my sore breast, tucked him under my arm as an armrest, and snuggled next to him in bed.

I indulged my childish need for security and no one chastised me for it. They acted like it was normal.

3. Shower Her with Love.

Love is the best gift you can give to your friend suffering with breast cancer. Don’t desert her when she needs you most. Right now, she requires extravagant love, and God will help you when your heart is breaking or it just seems too sad or too hard. John 13:34 tells us to love one another just as God has loved us.

God is the author of love and He knows just what your friend needs. He will show you how to love her when she is feeling unlovable.

Surprise her. What woman doesn’t love an unexpected gift or demonstration of how valuable she is to us?

The Bible assures us in Proverbs 17:17,“A friend loves at all times.” As a three-time breast cancer survivor, I assure you there are three things that will endure through the good and bad times—faith, hope and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Did Janet's "bad days ... good days" counsel help? Or are you still struggling with what to say to someone with breast cancer? If so ...

Check out Janet’s helpful suggestions in The Top Thirteen Things to Do or Say and NOT to Do or Say to Someone with Breast Cancer.”

Janet Thompson is a three-time breast cancer survivor, speaker, and author of the “Dear God” book series including, Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey. Janet found purpose in her breast cancer journey by writing for her breast cancer sisters the book she wished she had going through her surgeries and treatment. Visit Janet on her website.

This article includes excerpts from Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

Graphic: stuffed Hansa sheep is available on Amazon.

Thursday
Aug062015

Grandparenting with G-R-A-C-E

In this Relationship UPGRADE, Deb DeArmond offers encouragement to grandparents who must deal with their children’s divorce and the own desire to build an ongoing legacy with their grandchildren.

“When the family divides, grandparents may find themselves excluded,” Deb said. “How to manage? It may not be easy, but it is simple. Face it with G-R-A-C-E!”

Grandparenting can be a rewarding experience, but I (Dawn) know many difficulties can arise when divorce is involved. It helps to have some solid strategies to build relationships with the grandkids.

Deb continues . . .

“It’s in the wee hours when my defenses are down, that my heart breaks all over again,” Sandy says explaining to friends how the absence of her grandson, Charlie, affects her. “Being without him is tough, to say the least.”

A strained relationship following her son’s divorce led to her daughter-in-law’s decision to keep Charlie from Sandy and her husband.

Unfortunately, their story is familiar for grandparents everywhere.

When the family divides, grandparents find themselves excluded, praying for a few sweet moments with a much-loved grandchild.

Divorce can create disruption in the relationship. But other issues may factor in: 

  • A rebellious or prodigal child may punish his parents by withholding the grandchildren.
  • A strained relationship between you and your child’s spouse can be an issue.
  • The stress of seeing your grandchildren raised in an environment you find unsafe, unhealthy or chaotic can be difficult. Your comments may put you on the “no visit” list.
  • Grandchildren are sometimes used to extract something of value from the grandparents in exchange for time together.

Children are busy today. School, church, sports and other activities keep them on-the-go. There may be little time for grandparent visits.

So what are grandparents to do? Face it with G-R-A-C-E.

G - Give it to God.

Focus on calming thoughts and let go of what you can’t control. Search out and write down “God replacements” – thoughts and scripture that reassure.

1 Peter 5:7 is a great place to start.

“Casting all your cares upon Him for He cares for you” (NKJV).

God knows the hurt of rejection. Seek His comfort by giving hurts to Him.

R - Recharge yourself.

Sorrow can bring loneliness, grief, even depression to “forgotten” grandparents. “I had to learn to live a new normal,” Sandy remarked.

Exercise, good nutrition, and patience help to recharge emotional batteries. Choose activities that restore you spiritually.

Friends who’d had similar experiences brought comfort and insight to Sandy. “They helped me understand that peace and joy in life is still possible, even if you don’t get to see a beloved grandchild for many years.” 

A - Adjust your expectations.  

Our adult children have families, careers and responsibilities. We become guests (hopefully, honored guests) in their lives.

Your grandchildren may be raised differently than the way you raised your own.

Different is not always wrong; it’s just different. If you measure their parenting using yourself as ruler, they’ll always come up short. Raising kids is tough duty. Pray for your grandchildren and their parents.

We play second fiddle in this band, but the music can still be sweet.

C - Communicate!

Do it often and without judgment. Call frequently. Send notes, cards, and photographs. Keep at it, even if they go unanswered. Do what you can and let God manage the results.

Don’t put grandkids in an awkward position by asking about mommy and daddy or blaming their parents for missing time together. Keep adult issues between adults.

E - Educate yourself.

Paper and pen may be your preference, but computers, texting, and social media are tops with today’s kids. My 83 year-old mother-in-law is computer savvy and active on Facebook. She knows what’s going on in the life of her kids, grandkids, and great grands by following their activity. She knows their prayer needs as she’s part of their everyday lives.

It may not be easy, but it is simple. So . . . what’s your first step to face it with G-R-A-C-E?

Deb DeArmond’s passion is family—not just her own, but the 
relationships within families in general. Her most recent book,
Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last, reveals the power 
of choice to create the marriage you desire. Her first book, Related by 
Chance, Family by Choice, explores tools and tips to building sound 
relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Deb and 
her husband, Ron, live in the Fort Worth area. For more about Deb, 
visit her "Family Matters" site.
Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Tuesday
Aug042015

Permission to Serve God Imperfectly

One of the things you'll discover about Joan C. Webb is her authenticity and the desire to live make intentional choices. In this Attitude UPGRADE, she invites us to choose to relax in our service.

"I remember the day my shoulders relaxed and I gained permission to serve God in spite of my humanness and nagging imperfection," Joan says. "I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time; it was such a grace-filled release."

Did you get that? Isn't that what you want—to serve God in "grace-filled release"? I know I (Dawn) do; and I need the peace that comes with grace too.

Joan continues . . .

Every person in the packed hotel lobby stared at me as I banged my head against the glass door and fell to the concrete floor. The manager hurried to my side.

“That was dumb,” I whispered.

“You okay?” he asked.

“I thought it was an open door,” I mumbled. All I wanted was to pick up the morning’s newspaper on the other side of the room. Instead, I walked forcefully into a recently cleaned picture window.

“I’ll be fine, thanks,” I responded as I walked away, blurry-eyed.

How could you have done that, Joan? You know better.

 Then remarkably, my thoughts shifted. Hey, it was a mistake!

 And just as quickly shifted again. Yeah sure, JC. Not only was it a mistake, but a very public example of imperfection. Wonder if they all think you’re tipsy this early in the day.

Yet I couldn’t stifle an internal chuckle, because I was at the hotel to write another chapter in my book, The Relief of Imperfection. Right before I walked into the floor-to-ceiling glass window, I wrote the following words in my journal:

You know what? I don’t think there is a single biblical character (spiritual giant or not) who was consistently pure, good, or wise. Not one!

  • Abram lied about his relationship with wife Sarai (Genesis 12:10-20). Twice.
  • Sarah shamed and ridiculed her employee Hagar (Genesis 16:6).
  • Paul and John Mark had a public ministry split (Acts 15:36-40).
  • Peter impetuously cut off a soldier’s ear in defense of His friend Jesus and then denied even knowing Him (John 18:10,26).
  • James and John jockeyed for higher status, disregarding the others on Jesus’ team (Mark 10:35-41).

 Each had unique flaws, limitations, imperfect relationships, quirky habits or faulty reasoning. Yet…

Over the years, I have studied and received spiritual direction from these and other biblical servants. But perhaps I had not honestly examined the cumulative picture.

On this particular morning, God lovingly splashed His grace into my “trying too hard to serve Him just right” mentality and I saw the truth:

There is not one totally perfect human role model in the entire Bible.

(Well, except Jesus—who was 100-percent God and 100-percent man.)

I experienced a relief-producing paradigm shift that day as God assured me that: 

  1. He says “yes” to partnering with sinful, flawed, limited human beings (like me!) who choose to accept His Son Jesus Christ’s work on the cross and follow Him.
  2. Jesus surrounded Himself with perfectly imperfect people who decided to admit their needs, take risks, make mistakes and grow.
  3. He loves me—not merely what I can do. He wants me to grow. And since I want that, also, we’re on the same page with this desire. God doesn’t expect me to be, do or make it all just right all the time. That’s His job.

Now, I’m inviting you to re-read that last point with yourself in mind. God loves you – not merely what you can do. He loves watching you courageously serve Him without being overly-concerned about doing it all perfectly.

Are your shoulders relaxing yet? 

Joan C. Webb is a speaker and author who has written thirteen books including The Intentional Woman (co-authored with Carol Travilla), The Relief of Imperfection: For Women Who Try Too Hard to Make It Just Right and a four-book devotional series for children. As a Life Coach who specializes in working with writers and communicators, Joan helps set people free to become who they were designed to be and from what holds them back. For more information about becoming an intentional woman, visit Joan's website