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Lina AbuJamra

Sue Badeau

Dianne Barker

Twila Belk

Gail Bones

Harriet Bouchillon

Mary Carver

Jeanne Cesena

Pamela Christian

Lisa Copen

Erin Davis

Diane Dean

Deb DeArmond

Kelly DeChant

Danna Demetre

Melissa Edgington

Debbi Eggleston

Pat Ennis

Morgan Farr

Pam Farrel

Liz Cowen Furman

Gail Goolsby

Sheila Gregoire

Doreen Hanna

Holly Hanson

Becky Harling

Debbie Harris

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

Kolleen Lucariello

Kathi Macias

Paula Marsteller

Melissa Mashburn

Dianne Matthews

Cindi McMenamin

Elaine W. Miller

Kathy Collard Miller

Lynn Mosher

Karen O'Connor

Yvonne Ortega

Arlene Pellicane

Ava Pennington

Laura Petherbridge

Gail Purath

Marcia Ramsland

Kaley Rhea

Rhonda Rhea

Vonda Rhodes

Cynthia Ruchti

Julie Sanders

Judy Scharfenberg

Deedra Scherm

Laurel Shaler

Joanie Shawhan

Stephanie Shott

Poppy Smith

Susan K. Stewart

Stacie Stoelting

Jill Swanson

Janet Thompson

Janice Thompson

Teri Thompson

Brittany Van Ryn

Elizabeth Van Tassel

Leslie Vernick

Laurie Wallin

Julie Watson

Joan C. Webb

Shonda Savage Whitworth

Cherri Williamson

Kathy C. Willis

Debbie W. Wilson

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Jamie Wood

And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson



Adjusting to Change

Cherri Williamson is a missionary friend who, like most missionaries, has a life shaped by adjustments to change.

“Most of us don’t like change,” Cherri says. “I’ve had to adjust to many changes over the 37 years we served in Indonesia.”

Thirty seven years! When I went on two short-term mission trips, I got just a taste of what Cherri means by that word “adjustment,” so I know her insights are good for all of us ... anywhere!

Cherri continues …

Moving from modern conveniences to a thatched-roof house with dirt floors, a cement “squatty potty,” and no running water or electricity; and from conversing freely to speaking like a two-year-old as I studied two new languages—you’d think I’d now be a change pro! Wrong!

We recently moved to Singapore with its modern conveniences, malls, even Starbucks! But even this change hasn’t been easy.

The Lord reminds me of a few things when I go through these changes, and these reminders might help you too.

1. Don’t look back -“Forgetting what is behind and looking forward to what lies ahead” (Phil. 3:13). When looking at the past with rose-tinted glasses, present circumstances seem lacking. Focusing on the past makes acceptance of new situations difficult. Keep your eyes on the Lord today! 

2. But look back! Do consider how the Lord helped you through past difficulties.  “Remember how the Lord ... led you all the way” (Deuteronomy 8:2). Faithful yesterday, He will be just as faithful today. Remembering “the wonders He has done” (1 Chronicles 16:12) gives confidence He’ll help in every new change. 

3. Accept differences as just “differences,” not inferior or “dumb.” Having just moved to Singapore, I’m adjusting to its myriad regulations. I found myself grumbling, “This is so dumb!” But God is helping me see some benefits of these myriad regulations! (An example: I don’t have to worry about stepping on chewing gum. It’s illegal here!)

4. Ask God to change your perspective. Our first two years in the Indonesian jungle (with no stores or electricity), I complained I was “sick of eating nothing but rice, canned meat and leaves.” I’ll never forget my husband Barrie’s gentle rebuke: “Honey, maybe if you if you referred to them as ‘greens’ instead of ‘leaves,’ it would help you have a better attitude.” He was right.

5. Find your contentment and joy in Christ—not things, people or circumstances.  Missing malls, Mexican food and corporate worship at home have sometimes been sources of discontentment; but being away from family still is the hardest adjustment. I’m learning the “secret of being content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).

When I mutter, “If only ... THEN I would be happy,” my contentment is not in Christ. 

I CAN learn contentment “...through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13) and I CAN choose true joy! “You will ... grant me the joy of Your presence” (Ps. 16:11b NLT). 

6. Focus on the Unchanging: Christ’s presence, His Word, and His love and grace. He’s the same “yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), He will never leave you (Hebrews 13:5b), His grace is always “sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:9), and He will always be faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). 

7. Ask God to make you aware of over-looked blessings. God opened my eyes to see the blessing of living in a country free of religious strife, where I can go out alone in safety, and where great medical help is available. 

8. Delight in things He wants to teach you. In the jungle, God taught me how to can foods and make bread, yogurt, and tortillas, and create jam from unfamiliar tropical fruits. I’d never have learned those things in “civilization.” 

God allows changes into our lives to grow our faith, shake us from complacency and remind us how much we need Him.  

Paul said, “We were under great pressure ... but this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” (2 Corinthians 1:8, 9). An old hymn says, “In every change, He faithful will remain.” Count on it!

Which of these eight “Adjustment Tips” would most help you in your current changing or difficult situation?

Cherri Williamson is a missionary with New Tribes Mission (NTM) and served in Indonesia with her husband Barrie in church planting and Bible translation for 37 years, now in Singapore. She is the mother of two—both missionaries in Indonesia—and the grandmother of seven "perfect" grandchildren.

Image in text adapted, graphic courtesy of artur84 at


Joyful January Resolutions

Debby Lennick loves to help women with homemaking skills and making their homes Christ-centered and honoring to God. This is a different kind of "upgrade" post, but I hope it will get us thinking about the New Year.

"Happy New Year! Is it time for New Year's resolutions? Well, yeah!" Debby says. 

Debby knows she knows how to make a celebration out of just about anything. I love it that she wants to help us upgrade our lives as we celebrate the New Year ... with two recipes!

Debby continues ...

With excitement we can embrace this New Year because of God’s words: “For I know the plans that I have for you … to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NASV).

Many of us have like-minded resolutions for the new year, and we can support and encourage each other. Reaching goals most often means change - a change for the good. Focused commitment combined with teachability and a sense of humor are key ingredients for resolution success.

A big motivator is to intentionally think of why we have a specific goal. Two good reasons are more joy and peace in life. Meditate on God’s Word, recognizing “easy” is often not God’s way. Challenges are designed to draw us to Him. And remember ... you are one decision away from making a change!

And remember this: "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). 

Just for fun, here’s a "resolutions recipe" to help kick-start your New Year.

There may be times in this New Year when you'll be busy and need a quick recipe. Here’s a simple baked chicken dish. Serve it with a tossed green salad for a lean and nutritious meal. 

Did you find Debby's first recipe inspiring? What inspires you for the New Year - a motivating "word," a resolutions list, time alone with God in prayer?

Debby Lennick taught Home Economics at Christian High in El Cajon, California, for more than 20 years. She earned a Home Economics degree from San Diego Christian College (formally Christian Heritage College) which emphasized “economy of the home” topics. Debby is committed to women’s ministry at Shadow Mountain Community Church and has a deep love for helping others make the home a Christ-centered place for everyday family life.



'Building' a Family

Erin Davis is a young mother with godly priorities. I always appreciate her wise perspective of the high calling of motherhood. In this post, she encourages moms to stretch their vision.

“Throughout the Bible we find stories of women who, like Eve, were not perfect but still made a difference in God’s kingdom,” Erin says.

There’s Sarah, Hannah, Jochebed, King Lemuel’s mother and many more – women who made their mark in the scriptures while they left a legacy for their children.

Erin continues . . .

In the book of Nehemiah we find a story with the power to redefine motherhood.

Nehemiah was a trusted official under the Persian King Artaxerxes. He was also an Israelite who asked the king to let him gather his people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The king agreed, so people gathered and the building began.

When the enemies of Israel pushed back against the project, pay close attention to how the Israelites defended themselves:

“Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t’ be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your bothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”…. (Nehemiah 4:13-15, NIV, 1984, emphasis mine).

Instead of using an army of men, Nehemiah urged the people to fight by family. Husbands and wives gathered their children around them and prepared to fight for what mattered.

Could they have been victorious any other way? I don’t think so. Because they were fighting for their families, they were brave enough to stare down their enemies. And because they were fighting with their families, they were strong enough to win.

Because the people of Israel fought with their families and for their families, they completed a mighty task that displayed God’s glory.

Their story reminds me of the battle we are in and the kingdom we are called to build.

The moms from Nehemiah’s days encourage us to ask,

“What if parenting isn’t just about raising good kids but about winning a war? What if you aren’t just building a family, but are building a kingdom that will endure?”

The builders of the wall join Eve and other biblical moms in pushing us to think beyond the daily chores of mothering. They remind us that so much more is at stake than what we see in the daily grind of our role.

Listen, moms!

  • You're not just raising kids; you're living your faith.
  • You're not just mothering; you are running a race before many witnesses.
  • You're not on an unclear path; you are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who endured more hardship than you ever will. 

And He endured so you and your children can join Him in heaven at God’s right hand. [See Hebrews 12:1-2.]

The Israelite families knew they weren’t just building a wall. Likewise, you’re not just building a family; you are building your part of the kingdom. Doing so has the power to strike fear in the hearts of the enemies of God and put His power and glory on full display.

It’s about LEGACY!

You’re having an impact on God’s kingdom. Keep building!

What are some ways your family works together to build walls of faith and unity?

Erin Davis is passionately committed to sharing God's Truth and is the author of many books, including Beyond Bath Time: Embracing Motherhood As a Sacred Role. When she’s not writing books, you can find Erin chasing down chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Note about photo in Text: This is not a rock wall in Jerusalem; it is a rock wall in Jericho, Israel. (Photographer unknown)




Upgrade Your "DREAM" Goals

As I was thinking about the New Year, Kathy Carlton Willis inspired me with her “DREAM” acrostic. I want to share it with our Upgrade readers.

“Everyone has dreams God has planted in them,” Kathy said. “Whether they are big or small, they have vast importance in our lives. But to turn dreams into goals, we have to wake up the procrastinator.”

Kathy had me there! I am a part-time procrastinator. The apostle Paul spoke about goals (Philippians 3:13b-14) and the writer of Proverbs wrote about planning (Proverbs 21:5a), so I know God wants us to have goals.

Yet I had two goals that I was putting off planning for (procrastinating) until … when? It just seemed too overwhelming. But I’m glad I didn’t stop reading there.

Kathy continues …  

With just a little bit of planning, you can accomplish the goals God has for your life.

Set a realistic but challenging/inspiring goal. Make the goal big enough to challenge and excite you. Divide bigger goals into smaller steps so you aren’t overwhelmed.

Plan ahead. Once you’ve broken down your goal into pieces, keep a record of it on your computer or in a journal. Give yourself deadlines for each step. Otherwise, procrastination might get the best of you.

Brainstorm ideas. Wade through some silly ideas to mine the good nuggets.

Be passionate. Striving toward a goal without passion is like a fire which slowly runs out of fuel to burn. Get excited; this will only work if you love what you’re doing.

Revisit and evaluate your goals. Keep a record of your goals and make adjustments accordingly.

Consider new opportunities and options that come your way.

Ask God to show you what goals to set, and then get specific by asking Him to show you what you can do today to get one step, however small, closer to achieving your goals. Stay focused and believe in yourself even if others do not believe in you.

Set Your DREAM Goals:

D - Does it make a DIFFERENCE in your community? (Impact and Significance)

R - Can you REACH it? (Attainable and Realistic)

E - Does it ENERGIZE you? (Passion and Giftedness)

A - Can you ANALYZE it? (Track Results)

M - Does it fit your MISSION? (Purpose and Calling)

What are your DREAM Goals for this New Year? Which of Kathy’s tips might help you achieve them?

Kathy Carlton Willis shines for God, reflecting His light as a speaker at writer's conferences and women's retreats, and as an author - contributing to three books and writing hundreds of columns and articles online and in print publications. Her article today is an excerpt from Speaker to Speaker: The Essential Speaker’s Companion (Oaktara Publishing, to be released later in 2014). Kathy is also a publicist with Kathy Carlton Willis Communications. She and her husband/pastor,  Russ, live in Texas.

Image in Text: Courtesy of Grant Cochrane at


On the Verge

December 31st … we're on the verge of fresh new year.

This is the day some people begin thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Others choose a word or phrase to motivate them in the next 365 days. I like to sit down with questions for reflection, to make sure I’m still on track and staying true to my priorities.

“Verge” means edge, rim or margin—the limit or point beyond which something begins or occurs. Being “on the verge” means almost doing or experiencing something; being very near or within striking distance; on the brink of something; or in transition to some new state or quality.

That perfectly describes my anticipation of the new year, and all of life, really. Being on the verge brings us to the point of change, perhaps even to a new adventure.

Being on the verge is an opportunity to upgrade our lives, to launch out into new projects, to decide how we will make a difference not only in our own lives, but in our homes, our churches and our communities.

I was reading in Isaiah and a scripture leaped from the pages of the Bible into my heart: 

“Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

God says, don't remember the "former things.” It’s not just that God wants us to move past all our mistakes. God wants us to move past His marvelous works. He doesn’t want us to get stuck in the past. He doesn’t want us to put Him in a box, believing God must always work a certain way. He wants to do a new thing, perhaps more than we can even imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

That new thing may be a change in location, a change in circumstances, a change in direction or goals ... or even a change in us!

In this passage, God revealed Himself as Israel’s wonderful and only savior. The Almighty wanted Israel to understand how He was working on their behalf in their tough times—still leading, still challenging, still saving, still giving great grace.

Earlier in the chapter (verses 15-17), God revealed himself as “the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.” When we consider what may be ahead in our own lives, we must not forget who our God is—His character and the roles He plays in our lives.

He is our Creator, our source, the One who makes all things new. He transforms us. He is our King, our loving ruler, always working for our good as well as His glory. And He is our Savior, our deliverer, the One who gives victory.

No matter what’s ahead, He will be there. He is leading. He wants us to follow and surrender to His rule. You may not see what God is about to do, but you can believe He is already working. He declares in verse 19, “now it shall spring forth.” What he’s going to do is already beginning to sprout in you or through you. It’s just beneath the surface.

But the passage also says, “… shall you not know it?” To “know” in Hebrew is a total embrace of something … a total receptivity (like in husband-wife intimacy). God was saying, “Will you embrace the new thing I’m going to send into your life, no matter what it is?” Will you be open, available, ready to move with Him.

Why does God do “new things” in our lives? It’s not for our own glory; it’s to give a new platform for praise. “This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise” (v. 21).  God wants us to anticipate His new work, to trust Him in the process, and to praise Him when it begins and after it bears fruit.

To summarize:

  • Remember what God has done for you in the past, but don’t get stuck there.
  • Don’t limit God ... don't put Him in a box.
  • Anticipate God’s “new thing” in your life—no matter your feelings, no matter your circumstances.
  • Wonder over who God is—His character, roles and work. Do you know how "big" God is?
  • Surrender to (embrace) what God will “sprout” in your life in the days ahead.
  • Get ready to praise Him every step of the way!

You are on the verge of something exciting. Do you believe it? Are you ready to embrace the “new thing” God is bringing? If not, how can you prepare your heart today?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Ministries, is the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. In these ministries and as President of the San Diego chapter of Network of Evangelical Women in MInistry (NEWIM San Diego), Dawn encourages, edifies and energizes women with  scripture so they can better enjoy life, bless others and honor God. Dawn and her husband Bob have two grown, married sons and three granddaughters.