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Thursday
Feb092017

Dressing for Love

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Jill Swanson, a talented Image Consultant and speaker, is sharing ways to freshen up your look for sweet romance with your spouse.

"It’s the season for romance and love is in the air!" Jill says. "You can smell the roses, taste the chocolate and hear the music!"

I say, "Give me all three!" But seriously, I (Dawn) know Jill personally because she revamped my closet a few years back and gave me so many helpful tips. That's why I asked her to share this special Valentine's Day post to help us all boost our appearance and attitudes!

Jill continues . . .

You may wonder – what attracts a man? What do men really want?

Thirty five years ago, my husband and I went through pre-marital counseling. The pastor required us to read, His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley. The book gives the five basic needs of a man and a woman.

While the lists differed, each had a similar “equivalent” on the other list, with one exception: the man’s need for an attractive spouse.

 My husband confirmed it.

So, what makes a woman attractive?

Here are some easy tips to freshen up your look that won’t break the bank:

1. Reflect your natural beauty.

Find the nearest mirror and rediscover what you’ve been blessed with. Study your unique features: coloring, curves, facial shape, lips, nose, eyes and hair. Repeat the shape or shade in an accessory or color that complements you.

Take a moment to carefully study these examples:

Model on the left: Her necklace mimics her curls and haircolor, and the blue blouse matches her eye color.

Model on the right: Her red lips and blouse match, her neckline frames her jaw shape, and the layered shirt repeats her layered hair.

2. Show some shape.

Focus your attention on silhouette. Make sure your clothing adds definition to one half of the body.

If you are wearing a flowy top, pair it with a slim pant; or if you wear a flouncy skirt, put it with a fitted top — as shown here:

Self-conscious about your arms? Try sheer sleeves or sleeve slits at the top of the shoulder that extend to the outer elbow, this provides definition and coverage.

A wide belt under an open jacket (no matter your waist size) will give the illusion of a great shape.

3. Polish your look.

One Sunday morning, a minister in the church I grew up in, announced from the pulpit, “Ladies, a little bit of paint on the side of the barn, never hurt anything!” I couldn’t agree more. 

A little lip color, concealer, blush and mascara can do wonders. Contact a person who sells cosmetics or head to the nearest store makeup counter, and get some free tips.

4. Check your attitude.

Being an attractive spouse has more to do with WHO you are than what you look like.

Choose to daily cast off discontentment, criticism, and complaining.

Instead use the dress code in Colossians 3:12, 14: Clothe yourself in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And over all these things put on love.  

Ultimately, a man appreciates it when the woman looks the way he likes her to look.

Last month I worked with a woman 83 years young. Her husband asked me to do her makeup for some glamour shots. She was a model in the 1950’s who graced the covers of fashion magazines in her prime. Recently she’d fallen ill and he wanted to lift her spirits with a makeover and photo session — so romantic!

The gentleman specifically requested that I draw a long eye liner “wing” extending her lashes and apply bright red lips. I looked at him quizzically.

He then showed me her Vogue magazine cover – he wanted the same look she had in 1955. This gracious woman let him call the shots!

I obliged and he beamed with pride.

She instantly took on the persona of a poised model and transformed in front of the camera. It was the happiest she’d been in months.

She was the epitome of an attractive spouse — inside and out.

If you are married, are you dressing for love? No matter your marriage status, are there some simple, inexpensive things you might do, or some attitude changes you might make, to become a more attractive and winsome person? 

Jill Swanson, Image Consultant and Speaker, is the author of Out the Door in 15 Minutes and Simply Beautiful – Inside & Out. Jill works with individuals to evaluate, update and accentuate to their look both online and in person. For Jill’s books, consultations, or speaking information, visit her website or email her: jill@jillswanson.com.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of jill111, Pixabay.

Tuesday
Feb072017

Love Notes

In this Valentine's Day and Parenting UPGRADE, Morgan Farr—a mom with young children who transitioned from feminism to biblical womanhood—encourages parents to share the true Source of love with their children through "love notes."

"Each day I strive to instill a good work ethic, teach self discipline, and most importantly, demonstrate godly character to my sons," Morgan says, "but it isn't always easy."

Like Morgan, I (Dawn) have two sons. I remember those challenging days when I wondered whether anything I taught and modeled was "getting through" to them. But I'm sure of one thing: they knew they were loved.

Morgan continues . . .

This Valentine's Day, I want my sons to learn more than just paper hearts and candy.

This year, I will write three love notes for my sons to read when they are older. These notes will help them to see what real love truly is as they deepen their understand the perfect love of God.

Today I want to share these notes with you.

First and most importantly, I want my boys to know that the Creator of the universe made them by hand.

"For you created my in most being; you knit me together in my mother's womb" (Psalm 139:13).

Long before I knew my boys where there, God knew. He formed each and every part of them, to His exact specifications.

Second, I want my boys to know that it is alright for them to stand strong.

"Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the works of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Many things in this world will try to pull them away from the work of God. Many things from this world will try to undercut and downplay their role as men of God.

I want them to know that they can stand firm in His unwavering love.

Third, I want my boys to know that once they accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, they are reborn with a commission—a great one, in fact.

"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Fatger, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).

Christ has a calling for each of my son's lives. They may not have a garage gym ministry like my husband and I do. They may be mechanics, professors, senators or translators.

Whatever it is that they do on this earth, I want them to remember the real work to be done for the kingdom of God.

Charles Swindoll wrote:

"Each day of our lives, we make deposits in the memory banks of our children."

These love notes are the deposits I am focusing on this month.

What love notes will you focus on with your family?

Morgan Farr is an Army wife currently stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with her wonderful husband Brian and their two sons. She is a homemaker who dedicates her free time to ministering to other Army wives through Bible studies, one-on-one interactions and physical training. Morgan writes about her transition out of feminism and into biblical womanhood on her blog. You can find her training programs on her blog, FarrFunctionalFitness.blogspot.com.

Saturday
Feb042017

What's Better than Working for God?

In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, Debbie W. Wilson challenges us to think through our perspective on Christian service.

"I quit working for God," Debbie says. "I hope you will too."

On the surface, I (Dawn) think that's a jarring statement. Why would anyone quit working for God? Did I misunderstand? Isn't that a good thing?

Debbie continues . . .

How could a Christian worker make such a declaration?

 Because, I found something better.

When we work for God we make mistakes. We bruise people in “Jesus’ name.” We become resentful, proud, and worn out. We may even hurt His kingdom instead of build it.

Don’t believe me? Check out these traits and biblical examples to see what I mean.

  • Misguided: Moses thought he was working for God when he murdered an Egyptian taskmaster (Ex. 2:11-14).
  • Working against God’s kingdom: Saul of Tarsus thought he was working for God when he was eager to kill and imprison Christians (Acts 9:1-4).
  • Resentful: The hardworking son bitterly resented his father celebrating the return of the prodigal younger brother (Luke 15:11-32).
  • Proud: The Pharisees and religious leaders believed their work for God put them in His inner circle (Luke 18:11).

How do those of us who love Jesus and want to serve Him quit working for Him?

We learn to work with Him.

Those who work for God ask Him to bless their ideas.

Those who work with God join Him in His plan. They look to Him for guidance and strength.

  • Moses learned to rely on God. “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here” (Ex. 33:15 ESV).
  • Saul of Tarsus was transformed into the Apostle Paul who said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20 ESV.)
  • Jesus who said, “No longer do I call you servants, …but I have called you friends” (John 15:15 ESV) also said “ I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).

I used to beat myself up when I failed to meet the expectations I put on myself. Now I believe my job is to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. That in no way translates into passivity. It means I believe Jesus is living and working in me.

I work with Him. He works through me.

When we serve God by working with Him, He gets the glory.

His plan, through His power, and in His time, builds His kingdom.

Who do you think makes a better ambassador for Christ, the one who works for God or the one who works with Him?

How to Start Working With God:

1. Ask God to show you where you have been striving to work for Him.

2. Admit your inadequacy and surrender your will and your way of doing things to Him.

3. Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit and to teach you how to rely on Him in every area of your life.

4. Thank Him for leading you. This demonstrates faith.

It takes practice, but I’m learning that staying in sync with my Lord is better than reaching my goals—even ministry goals.

Would you rather work for God or with Him?

Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. They, along with their two grown children and two standard poodles, enjoy calling North Carolina home. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of DodgertonSkillhouse, Morguefile.

Saturday
Jan282017

Upgrade Your Generosity

I think Holly Hanson is an expert when it comes to saving money, but she's also an expert giver in many ways that count. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she encourages us to upgrade our generosity.

“When you are faced with a charity request, it’s easy to get overwhelmed," Holly says, "but I’ve discovered you can give generously by using your brain and not necessarily your own wallet.”

Were you holding your breath like I (Dawn) was when you first saw the title of this post? I sometimes think, "I wish I had more money to give." I don't think I have much to give. But Holly inspired me. Maybe we need to rethink generosity.

Holly continues . . .

If you are like me, you’ve probably been hit up a lot lately for charitable gifts. It seems there is always a need coming to the forefront.

  • Maybe there’s a family that walks to school in clothes that are in bad shape.
  • Maybe there’s that homeless shelter down the street with a lot of hurting people.
  • Maybe there’s an obvious need you see that someone is too embarrassed to mention.

Should you feel compelled to do anything?

I think the Bible has a very clear answer.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it" (Proverbs 3:27, NASB).

That verse hit me in the gut the first time I read it.

I felt overwhelmed. I certainly couldn’t afford to help EVERY person who had a need.

But then I realized, I’m a money-saver by nature. I didn’t have to pay for it all! It was in my power to help!

I just had to use the gifts God gave me, tap the resources I have access to, and be obedient.

Using a pool of options, I am now able to find solutions for many of the needs I see, without spending a fortune.

1. Inspire others with your vision.

This is my favorite method. When I start to dream big, I tell my friends what I am thinking, and let them join in. By expanding my web of influence, I can sometimes get major donations for my projects, just by dropping a name or two. Sometimes friends will use their own resources to contribute to my project.

I work as a Realtor and recently, I helped sell a divorcing neighbor’s home. He was frustrated about the divorce and didn’t want to move all of his things out, but was willing to give them to my homeless project just because he was inspired by my “pitch.” When I sent him a picture of all of his things being worn and used by the homeless, he said it was the best thing that came out of his divorce.

Incidentally, it also prompted him to ask me why I do things like that, and I was able to tell him about my love for Jesus and the call he has placed on my life.

2. Join as many free sites as you can.

I belong to a “buy nothing” Facebook page that only offers free things to give and take between members. When I see something that would benefit a friend, a young mom, or help the homeless folks I serve, I request it.

I also belong to a local “classifieds” page on Facebook that also frequently advertises free items for pickup.

3. Utilize your consumer connections.

To help my daughter make homeless hygiene packs:

  • We asked her orthodontist and dentist to donate toothbrushes and toothpaste;
  • We hit up some local hotels for travel sized shampoo, conditioner and wet-wipe amenities;
  • We redeemed coupons for free lotions and body wash; and
  • We asked friends to check their cupboards for washcloths, soap, razors, and lip balms.

The kits cost very little this way, but serve a great need.

4. Keep your spending focused.

Are you considering giving a gift to a missionary?

Do you want to thank your pastor’s wife for something?

Are you in need of a professional service?

Upgrade your generosity by allowing those in your church, faith community or circle of friends to be the vendors for your purchase.

By buying from them instead of an outside company, you bless their businesses and help them pay their bills. When they have more money, they can afford to be more generous as well, and the circle gets bigger.  

Smart spending is a super-strategic way to build God’s kingdom!

What specific need can you fill this week, and who can you ask to help you?

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 the founder of the Moms Inc. Ministry and is a licensed California Realtor. She is married and is a mom, step-mom, and step-grandma. Holly is active at Shadow Mountain Community Church, in El Cajon, California, serving with women's ministry, children's ministry, and singing in the Shadow Mountain Choir.

Thursday
Jan262017

Are Resolutions a Good Idea?

Author and speaker Kathy Collard Miller is one smart lady. I've grown to trust her insights. In this UPGRADE for the New Year, she asks us to get real about resolutions.

Kathy asks, "Did you make a resolution but you’ve already forgotten it, flubbed it up or forsaken it? It’s hard to believe a resolution won’t succeed, right?"

I (Dawn) want to say, "Don't go there!" I've blown more resolutions in decades of living than I care to remember. I wish I'd known a wiser perspective.

Kathy continues. . .

Although it’s against common beliefs that resolutions might not be the best idea, they often don’t succeed because of three reasons.

Let’s see what will work instead.

1. Resolutions are often “all or nothing.”

Haven’t we all resolved to:

  • “...study the Bible every day”?
  • “...never get angry at my children again”?
  • “...always be content in everything”?

Do you see those “absolute" words: every, never, always? Who can do that? Only Jesus and we aren’t Him!

How about if we become realistic with our desires?

  • “I’m going to study the Bible three times this week for five minutes each?”
  • “I”m going to examine when I become angry most often and ask my friend to pray for me at one of those times.”
  • “I’m going to choose one area of discontent and surrender to God in that area today.”

Those are reachable, but even if we don’t reach them

God’s unlimited second chances called “mercy” are always available to re-boot our plans.

2. Resolutions are often beyond our personal resources.

If we are using a huge resolution to try to force change within us, it’s usually beyond our level of maturity or trust in God. Who hasn’t wanted to trust God in every situation?

When I’m thinking that way, I love to be reminded of Jesus’ compassion for the father who replied, “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24 ESV). Jesus healed his son anyway.

God knows the next step for our growth and He’s not impatient with our progress.

3. Resolutions are often beyond our control.

Did you know there’s a difference between desires and goals?

Desires are what we would like but we may not be able to reach them because someone else has to cooperate. You may desire to have a spectacular marriage but guess who else has to have that desire—and take action? Right!

There’s nothing wrong with the desire. The problem is thinking we can force it to happen ourselves.

Different from desires, goals are attainable and within your control. A goal regarding your marriage might be, “I will think of something positive I like about my spouse three times (or five—whatever is a reasonable number) this week.”

Can you do that regardless of your spouse’s involvement? Yes. And it may have an impact on your marriage towards making it spectacular.

These three perspectives can be drawn from First Timothy 4:15:

“Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress” (ESV).

The word “progress” is the idea of “a pioneer cutting his way through the wilderness” (Vine’s Biblical Dictionary). Guess how a pioneer does that? One step at a time with a machete or axe. Not one fell swoop with a mile long sword.

If God had intended for us to have instant, complete, “all or nothing,” perfectly-fulfilled “resolutions,” He wouldn’t have used the word “PROGRESS.”

He would have inspired Paul to write “perfection.” Plus, He says, “practice these things.”

That takes time and involves seeking the power of the Holy Spirit moment by moment.

So how are your resolutions going? Great? I hope so. But if not, don’t be discouraged. How can you consider revising them to be more reasonable, attainable, and realistic?

Kathy Collard Miller is a popular speaker and award-winning author of over 50 books. Her most recent book is Choices of the Heart in the Daughters of the King Bible Study Series. Kathy has spoken in over 30 US states and eight foreign countries. Find out more about Kathy at her website.

 

 

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