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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
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.

Tuesday
Feb252014

How to Trade Away Your Fears

Author Rebecca Barlow Jordan loves to paint encouragement on the hearts of others; and in her Day-votions® book series by Zondervan—Day-votions® for Women, Day-votions® for Mothers, and Day-votions® for Grandmothers—that’s exactly what she does. In this UPGRADE Your Attitudes post, she encourages women by showing them how to trade away their fears.

“One of the most prevalent areas where women need encouragement is with fears,” says Rebecca: “Will my marriage fail? Will disaster befall my family? Can I really parent my children successfully? How can we ever meet our growing financial needs?" 

When I was a young girl, I (Dawn) struggled with fear. I thought my fears would leave after I got married. But they didn't. It wasn't a matter of growing out of my fears, but rather, of growing up into Christ.

Rebecca continues…

Fear is no respecter of age or season of life. As women, we’re challenged with fears daily.

 The reality is that some of those things could happen to any of us. Our world is changing daily. Instead of living in fear, I’ve learned—and am still learning—to choose another option.

A fear that used to plague me was that somehow I would reach the end of my life and not accomplish all God wanted me to. Then one day I read a familiar Bible verse in a new light: And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6, NLT).

I discovered that it was God who began the “good’ work in me, God who would continue it, and it was God who would finish that work, regardless of my fears.

When?

On the day Christ Jesus returns.  

Long after my life has ended—if I die before Christ comes back—the work God began in me will keep on going.

Yes, that means my salvation, but also everything God envisioned for my life. I can trust Him to finish it. He’s faithful!That’s when I decided to trade away my fear.

Here are some steps that might help you to do the same:

1. List your actual fears on a sheet of paper: every phobia or nagging fear that tries to steal your joy.

2. Confess those fears to God. You may even want to do a Scripture search to find a “faith-filled” Bible verse to place beside each of those fears, or several verses that remind you not to fear, like Isaiah 41:10, NIV: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Keep your list handy, and refer to those verses often, each time a new fear arises.

3. List times in the past when God helped you through a fearful situation, times when you can honestly say, “God was faithful to bring me through that.” You might even do you own Scripture search regarding the “faithfulness” of God.

4. Instead of focusing on your fears, trade away your fears for God’s faithfulness. He is trustworthy! Tell God you are trading away your fears, and invite His help to do so.

I love these encouraging words from the Psalms about God’s faithfulness: He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart (Psalm 91:4, NIV).

What are your greatest fears? Will God’s faithfulness reduce your fear? Only you can answer that. He will if you let Him.

I do know this. There is no end to His faithfulness: For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies (Psalm 108:4, NIV).

Rebecca Barlow Jordan is the author of 11 books, including the Day-votions® women’s series, and 40 Days in God’s Presence. She has also written over 2000 articles, devotions, and greeting cards and writes an encouraging weekly blog. As a minister’s wife she lives in East Texas and has two grown children and four grandchildren. Find out more about Rebecca at rebeccabarlowjordan.com.

Rebecca adapted this article for UPGRADE with Dawn from her previous post

 

Thursday
Feb202014

Living in the Light: The No-Fear Zone

Quirky humor and deep wisdomthat's Rhonda Rhea. One of her books, How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person? helps women live in God's light. In this humorous post, she encourages us to move out of the darkness of our fears.

“I don’t care what anyone says, I never laugh in the face of danger,” Rhonda said. “But sometimes, when danger isn’t looking, I point and make faces and call it a big stupidhead. Of course, then if danger looks over, I look down and pretend I’ve been picking lint off my jacket the whole time.”

Oh Rhonda ... I don't think I've ever called danger "a big stupidhead," but I will from now on!

Rhonda continues …

I decided early in life it might be wise to give a respectable deference to danger and fear, at least to their faces. I guess it’s partly because when I was a kid, Bozo the Clown used to sit in a dark corner of my room every night and brood creepishly. It was always in the same corner. Then in the morning he’d be gone and there would be a floor lamp there instead. Eerie.

Since I obviously know my way around the fear topic, here’s my helpful tip of the day: 

If you’re panicking, try taking deep breaths. Unless you’re panicking because you’re drowning. Because then you’re definitely going to need a whole different tack.

On the more serious side, though, isn’t it glorious that as we breathe in the presence of the God of light, we see our fears fade?

When the angel came to the shepherds to announce the birth of the Messiah, the glory-light must’ve been shocking. “The glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.” (Luke 2:9, NKJV) But the angel’s first words to the shepherds were, “Do not be afraid” (verse 10, NKJV). No need to fear! In fact, the angel brought the good news that the birth of the Messiah was ushering in our salvation.

Has there ever been a greater reason for rejoicing? And that’s just what happened. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” (verse 13, NKJV) What a sound and light show that must’ve been! But the shepherds didn’t stay frozen in fear. No, they got up and hurried off to find the Christ.

That angel chorus wasn’t the only Jesus-welcoming light party. When the wise men sought the Messiah, they were led by God’s magnificent starlight. “And there it was—the star they had seen in the east! It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure. Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshipped Him.” (Matthew 2:9-11, HCSB)

Light can lead us to that place of worship. Worship is the exhale as we breathe in His light.

Ever scared of the dark? When we get those dark fears out of the way, we’re free to worship and praise—the perfect response as we encounter the Lord of light.

Fear can be devastatingly powerful. It can rear its ugly head at the most inopportune moments. And when it arrives, it all but takes over our thoughts. It’s tough to think of anything else when fear makes its way into our gray matter.

In Psalm 27:1, David reminds himself of the God who chases away fear: “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom should I fear?” (HCSB) Fear may be powerful, but it’s nothing compared to our God.

Bozo? You got nuthin’.

When do your worst fears arise? When they surface, ask God to help you focus on scripture truth about God and His presence, and on Jesus, the One who conquers our fears.

Rhonda Rhea is a radio personality, speaker and the author of 12 books, including Espresso Your Faith and the newest, Join the Insanity: Crazy-Fun Life in the Pastors’ Wives Club. Along with her daughters, she hosts the weekly TV show, “That’s My Mom” on Christian Television Network. Rhonda and her daughter, Kaley Faith Rhea, have their first co-authored novel releasing in 2014 with the second soon following. She lives in the St. Louis area and is a pastor’s wife and the mother of five practically-out-of-the-house children.

Tuesday
Feb182014

The Things Challenge

When I saw a motivating article by Kathi Lipp about about cutting back on clutter in 2014, I knew I had to have her share an Upgrade Your Organization post.

“I feel like I’m drowning in stuff!”

Oh yeah … I’ve been there. And I know a lot of women who are going down for the third time, overtaken by their affluence—all their "stuff." But we can all simplify, pare down, make wiser purchases, get our things in order and, in the process, glorify God. It’s part of the “whatever” found in Colossians 3:17.

Kathi has some good advice to help us know what to keep and what to eliminate.

She continues …

"Drowning in stuff." This is a sentiment I hear over and over again when I talk to women about their homes. And there has been a lot of talking going on in my corner of the web since we launched the 2014 Things Challenge where we ask readers to get rid of 2014 things in 2014.

The challenge part? Not having too much stuff—it’s deciding what’s worth keeping and what’s worth living without.

“Clutter is postponed decision making,” says Barbara Hemphill of The Paper Tiger Institute.

Many people want to hang on to items that they no longer need or love, but never deal with the reasoning behind their choices.

If you fall into this large category, it might be because you have memories attached to that item or you think you might use it in the future.

When you are unsure of what to do, it feels easier to keep everything and avoid making a difficult decision that might save space or mental energy. You can end up with a whole room full of “Things I Might Need to Save.”

Want to avoid being continually buried in a pile of “But I might need it some day!”? Here are four tips to guide you in the decision making process:

1. If you love it and use it, KEEP IT.

This one is easy. If you have sweet memories that you enjoy thinking about when you use the object and you actually use it, this is an item that you will want to save.

That pasta maker that you have used once since you got married? (And even then, you got mad the whole time because the noodles turned into mush?) You get rid of it, which brings us to the second tip:

2. If you don’t love it and don’t use it, TRASH IT.

Although this seems to be the easiest category to deal with, it is sometimes that hardest. Let’s talk about the potholder your aunt gave you. You never use it, and you don’t want to, but you feel guilty giving it away? Ask yourself if it makes your space a happier place to be. If not, you can just let it go.

3. If you don’t love it, but use it, WAIT.

Ask yourself, why you are still using it? Is it something that you are just using until you get something that you like better? Maybe the one you would like is one that is too expensive right now. Have a goal in mind to replace it, and when you do, give this one away!

4. If you don’t use it, but love it, GRAB A FRIEND TO HELP.

It helps to have someone to process why you love something and if it is something that you will really love down the line. Memories can be strong reasons to save things, but if you do not even have the space to display them properly, you are not honoring the memories because the items get smashed, trashed and put aside.

These tips will help to get rid of your things you do not want, but save the ones that really make you happy.

What are some creative ways you use to display things you love?

Kathi Lipp is the author of eight books including The Husband Project, The Get Yourself Organized Project, and Praying God’s Word for Your Life, and she speaks at conferences across the US. Find out more at kathilipp.com.