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[See their Bios on the Partners Page by clicking on the Blogger box, above]

     PARTNERS:

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

Sally Ferguson

Liz Cowen Furman

Gail Goolsby

Sheila Gregoire

Kate Hagen

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

 

Tuesday
Mar112014

Wrestling the Inferior Interior

Dianne Barker teaches with passion about marriage, parenting, relationships and abundant living; but it was her thoughts about feelings of inferiority that made me think she should share an UPGRADE Your Attitudes post.

"Low self-esteem is a humanity thing," Dianne says.

I guess I've been pretty human most of my life, Dianne; but God has changed that for me. It's all about embracing the truth.

Dianne continues ...

I’ve been “on stage” since my second-grade piano recital. I’ve appeared confident as a journalist and speaker for women’s events. But most of my life I’ve struggled with feelings of inferiority.

Most people wrestle this enemy—the inferior interior. Outward affirmation won’t cure it … career success can’t eradicate it.

We need divine intervention. Our part is to change our thinking.

1. I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. While beating myself up for what I’m not, I read this passage. “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV). Fearfully and wonderfully made by God himself! Belittling myself condemns his creation.

2. I’m here on purpose. That floods me with hope. While the enemy went overboard bashing, the Lord whispered, “I put you here—on this earth, in this family, in these circumstances—because you have something to contribute.” His Word clarifies we’re created with differences to fulfill specific assignments in the body of Christ. We each have a purpose in his huge plan.

3. I won’t compare my weakness with someone else’s strength. I learned this principle while sitting with a friend after minor surgery. She asked me to get something out of her closet. Opening the door I saw unbelievable organization. Lacking organization skills, I went home and cried.

God spoke. Don’t compare your weakness with someone else’s strength. He brought me to this verse: “Try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities” (Romans 12:3, Phillips). A temperament analysis and spiritual-gifts inventory helped me identify and appreciate my abilities. It isn’t egotistical to have a sane estimate of our capabilities.

4. I do some things well. My sane estimate revealed I’m good at many things. I’d wanted to exchange temperaments, but that would give me a different set of strengths and weaknesses. Nobody got all strengths. God equips us for the work he designs. Our concern is using our strengths for his maximum glory.

5. I’m not competing with anyone for God’s will for my life. During college, my daughter competed in several beauty pageants. One evening she returned from practice discouraged by the amazing talent performances. The Lord’s sweet assurance lifted her despondency. She said, “I’m not competing with anyone for God’s will for my life.” Exactly.

God’s truth seared my inferior interior.

“You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20, Amplified).

Low esteem insults the Christ who bought us with his own blood.

Consider His opinion of us:

Are you still worrying about your limitations? Not me!

“On the glorious splendor of Your majesty and on Your wondrous works I will meditate” (Psalm 145:5 Amplified).

Do you struggle with any thoughts of inferiority? Which of the statements about Jesus’ opinion of you can help you defeat the “inferior interior”?

Dianne Barker is a conference speaker, freelance journalist, radio host, and author of eleven books including the 1986 best-seller Twice Pardoned (life of Harold Morris, Focus on the Family Publishing). Her new book, I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life throws a rope to the desperate drowning in disorganization—purging interior garbage (inferiority, low esteem) and submitting fully to Christ. Her articles appear in numerous publications. She and her husband James have two married children and one grandson.

* All linked scriptures are the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

Graphic image in text adapted - courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Saturday
Mar082014

God's Promises for Your 'What if ...'s'

Vonda Rhodes knows how to turn a scary negative into a God-blessed positive, and I appreciate her attitude UPLIFT today.

Vonda asks, “Have you ever been faced with an unpleasant circumstance and found yourself immediately defaulting to the worst-case scenario?”

Actually, I (Dawn) used to use “worst-case scenarios” to talk myself out of my fears and worries, but Vonda has a better idea!

She continues …  

“Instead of following ‘What if...’ with a negative, how about inserting one of God’s promises?

  • What if I can trust You fully?
  • What if You’re sovereign over all?
  • What if Your provision is more than enough for this situation?
  • What if You’ve forgiven me completely and I’m free from the enemy’s oppression?" *

There is more than one way to talk to yourself. You don’t have to be oppressed. Joy is possible even in the midst of trouble.

How? By renewing your mind with the Truth found in God’s Word. By getting into agreement with God and kicking out thoughts that don’t agree with His.

The God who gave you life is more than capable of handling all the details of your life. Trust Him. He is faithful!

I love the verse that says, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).  

It doesn’t say, “Keep your eyes on your problems. Think of all the things that could possibly go wrong, worry, fret, be anxious and fearful and, in the process, make yourself and everyone else around you miserable.”

No, instead of negative “what ifs,” remind yourself who you are and Whose you are. It will help turn things around—beginning with your mood and attitude.

 The devil would love nothing more than to steal your joy, because he knows that the joy of the Lord is your strength!

He would love to discourage and depress you. Don’t let him! Remember, the devil is a liar!

I remember times (before I knew better) that I would let the devil fill my mind with all kinds of wrong thoughts. It began with one thought, then he’d add another and another. The next thing I knew, I went from being mildly annoyed to completely depressed! I went from sitting on the couch to curled up on my bed and crying a river of tears based solely on the wrong thoughts I was meditating on in my own mind!

I am so thankful for revelation from God and great teaching from anointed preachers, teachers and pastors!

Remember that ultimately, all things will work together for your good, because you love God and have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). That is a promise from God! If God is for you (and He is), who can be against you? You, along with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit make a majority!

Don’t give up in defeat. Armor up and fight back in the Spirit! Know in your heart that victory already belongs to you in Christ. And while you’re at it:

Smile and give the devil a nervous breakdown!

How would your life be affected if you lined up your thoughts with God’s today?

Vonda Rhodes is a full-time caregiver who resides in Arizona with her husband. She currently gives her free time to encouraging others on Facebook and actively serving in her local church.

Graphic in Text an adapted Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

* Vonda's questions are adapted from the “Every Good Thing” calendar.

Thursday
Mar062014

When It's Best to Hold Your Tongue

I “met” Lina AbuJamra when I read one of her books, Thrive, a book primarily for singles. I was impressed with her grasp and practical application of biblical truth. I recently saw a post she wrote for a True Woman ministry and wanted to share it, with her permission, with UPGRADE readers so we can Upgrade the use of our tongue.

“I talk too much,” Lina wrote. “Way, way too much.”

Lina had me there … I just finished a discussion with my husband Bob about how I tend to talk too much in the car. Maybe it’s because poor Bob is a captive audience.

Lina continued …

But God is committed to teaching me when to hold my tongue. With that in mind, let me share ten situations where I'm learning it's better to refrain from talking:

1. When you have no idea what to say

Proverbs 17:28: "Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent."

2. When you're wrongly accused

1 Peter 2:23: "When he was reviled, he did not revile in return."

Isaiah 53:7: "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth."

3. When you're mad

Proverbs 25:28: "Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control."

4. When you're confused about life

Lamentations 3:25–28: "The Lord is good for those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord . . . Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him; let him put his mouth to the dust—there may yet be hope."

5. When you wouldn't want someone else to find out you said it

Luke 12:3: "Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops."

6. When you don't really mean it

Proverbs 3:28: "Do not say to your neighbor 'Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it,' when you have it with you."

7. When you can't stop yearning for the good old days

Ecclesiastes 7:10: "Say not, why were the former days better than these? For it is not from wisdom that you ask this."

8. When you have a lot to do and you don't like it

Philippians 2:14: "Do all things without grumbling or complaining."

9. When the timing is wrong

Proverbs 25:11: "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in setting of silver."

10. When you don't have anything to say that gives grace

Ephesians 4:29: "Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear it."

Got any other tips on when to refrain from talking? Share them with our UPGRADE readers.

Lina AbuJamra is a Pediatric ER doctor, author, and speaker. Her passion is to apply her life-saving, decision-making, and hope-giving skills from the Emergency Room to rescue and recover people from spiritually deadly situations. Lina shares stories of faith at her popular blog. She has written two books:  Thrive: The Single Life as God Intended,  and Stripped: When God’s Call Turns from Yes to Why Me? Lina lives alone in Chicago, although she does have many friends. You can connect with her daily at livingwithpower.org.

 

 

Tuesday
Mar042014

10 Easy Tips to 'Spring Clean' Your Home

Marcia Ramsland, a Life Organizing Coach, is offering a coaching course this month to help people declutter their homes. She graciously agreed to share 10 helpful UPGRADE Your Home tips.

“Need a winter boost and it’s not quite spring? You can create the freshness of a spring cleaning inside your heart and home,” Marcia said, “by taking some decisive action.”

I love the spring cleaning concept. I always have. But that doesn’t mean I like spring cleaning. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had a plan.

Marcia continues …

This could be any day at your home just by lacing up your gym shoes and stepping up the pace. Just look around you. Would any of these 10 Tips spruce up your home?

1. Vacuum your home and let some fresh breezes in. The whole house – and your outlook -will begin to take shape and look fresher.

2. Wash your bedding and change your blankets. Get rid of musty and dusty.

3. Put away winter coats, boots, and mittens, cleaning as you go through the front and back closets by the entrances.

4. Wash the windows to clear out winter gray that blocks your view. (Average 5-10 minutes per window).

5. Clear away piles by recycling newspapers, catalogs and newspapers that may have accumulated over the winter.

6. Sweep out the garage and wash the cars. Vacuum, wax, and change the oil in your car to get ready for spring and summer trips.

7. Clean up your desktop for a fresh start at work, too. No need to live with left over paperwork from the winter. Get it done, filed, and cleared up to get outside with the longer sunny days approaching.

8. Clean your closet by seasonally changing clothes and bringing out spring attire. Wash, iron, and mend before your clothes get put away. Giveaway clothes you didn’t wear and don’t like.

9. Shop for something new to wear for spring. When you feel better about how you look, people notice and even treat you better!

10. Clean out the refrigerator and make a fresh food meal of what’s in season. A social event or picnic can be a delightful celebration that you’ve finished your Spring Cleaning early!

These 10 Action Steps remind me of what was once said about a wise woman in the Bible and how she handled her home:

"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down” (Proverbs 14:1).

I challenge my audiences and YOU to be a “Wise Woman” and build your home and family life by taking charge of the state of your home.

Whether you decide to thoroughly clean on a weekday or a weekend, don’t wait for a sunny day. Any day can be “Spring Cleaning Day.”

Which two steps would make the biggest difference in your home right now? You can do it—starting today!

Marcia Ramsland, a Life Organizing Coach, International Speaker, and Best-Selling Author, is committed to helping women break through barriers to simplify and succeed in life. She is well known as the “Organizing Pro” and nationally appears in Better Homes and Garden, Woman’s Day, Real Simple magazines, the Wall Street Journal and Martha Stewart radio.   

Beginning March 20, Marcia is offering a special 4-Week Coaching Course for busy women“Simplify Your Space: A Room by Room DeCluttering Action Plan at Home!” Register at OrganizingPro.com.

 

Thursday
Feb272014

Bless Your Heart

Pamela Christian had been working in ministry for more than ten years when she died and was revived through defibrillation. Now, with her Bless Your Heart Campaign, she devotes her life to increasing awareness, seeking to save not only physical lives, but spiritual lives too. I asked her to share this health UPGRADE.

"You could literally save a life simply by being aware," Pamela says.

When I first read about Pamela's campaign, I wondered whether I could ever help save a woman's life, but awareness is a great start. “Helping women everywhere become aware,” is the slogan for Pamela’s campaign and an excellent consideration for each of us.

Pamela continues…

In 2002, I joined three women for the first time to play tennis. I wanted to play well so they’d invite me back. As a result, I was very nervous, or so I thought. While warming up, my symptoms worsened. It became apparent that my condition was far more serious than nerves.

After a series of events, a call was made to 9-1-1. Six minute and twenty-one seconds afterwards the EMT’s arrived and began administering advanced life support. I heard the Paramedic announce that he’d inject fifty cc’s of lidocaine, not once but twice, in an effort to get my heart regulated.

The upper and lower chambers of my heart were beating out of sync. The EKG showed my heart beating around 300 beats per minute. A person my size, at full exertion, playing tennis on a good day, should have a maximum heart rate of about 190 beats per minute. After, my heart went into Ventricular Fibrillation, it then stopped. I flat-lined.

I was dead for about one full minute or more, during which time my soul and spirit entered a different dimension—one no human words can describe. I refer to it as the threshold of heaven.

I knew I was in the center of God’s sovereign care.

There was a white light off in the distance but it didn’t beckon me. I was aware that I was a wife and mother and that I was not able to be with my family, but I knew they were also in God’s sovereign care.

The EMT’s cut my clothing, then using the “zappers,” two-hundred joules of power surged through my body. I could feel myself being drawn back and I heard my name being called. “Pam, Pam, are you with us? Pam come back.”

I felt my soul and spirit returning, and in all honesty, I was utterly agitated that I was brought back. It’s an amazing story that can be heard in part on my web site. [Read it ... it's wonderful! - Dawn]

What I suffered is called sudden cardiac arrest. Until recently it was called sudden cardiac death, because no one survived. A victim’s chances of survival are reduced by seven to ten percent with every minute of delay until defibrillation. Now, with the greater accessibility to defibrillators about five percent of witnessed victims survive.

Here’s what you can do to help save lives:

Which of these awareness steps could help you during a heart-crisis event? Do you know how to use a defibrillator?

If you didn't read Pam's whole story about that eventful day, here's your second chance!

For over twenty years, Pamela Christian, “the Faith Doctor,” has compassionately helped people discover and live in life-giving truth. Teaching, as a keynote speaker, radio talk-show host and apologist (Biola University), Pamela uniquely helps people embrace confident faith and the eternal hope it provides.