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   and Founder:

   Dawn Wilson

 

Monday
May132013

How to 'Suit Up' with Courage

Are you a courageous woman? I am turning into a courageous woman; it doesn’t come naturally, believe me!

I have to “suit up” for it. And so can you.

Here are some of the spiritual gymnastics I go through in “scary” times—what I remember:

1. Courage speaks up and acts. Look at life through the lens of God’s calling, promises, and strength. Move beyond fear. driven by the plan of God and a cause greater than yourself. Courage speaks up: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so” (Psalm 107:2a). Like Queen Esther, courage sees the bigger vision and steps forward to do her part (Esther 4:13-17). Courage embraces the solid hope that God can redeem any situation.

2. Courage isn’t afraid to be different. Author Leslie Ludy said (Set-Apart Femininity, p. 89) she read a speech given by a Jewish father at his son’s bar mitzvah. He told his son not to apologize for being Jewish, but rather, to embrace the holy calling of being a Jew. "To be holy is to be different," the father said. "That which is holy is set apart.” Ludy makes this application: “A set-apart young woman has the courage to be different." *

Did you ever sing this song? "Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known!" ** Daniel knew who he was, even in a pagan culture. His significance and purposeful choices were wrapped up in God and reflected his commitment to the Lord (Daniel 1:8-16).

3. Courage counts on God’s presence and power. “Don't be afraid. The Lord will be your helper and never leave your side” (Hebrews 13:5-6). Pastor Bill Elliff wrote, "Everything flows from the presence of God." Everything you and I will ever need – including courage - comes from the God of power, provision and peace. Count on the ever-present Spirit of God (Acts 1:8; 4:29-31; Romans 15:13; Ephesians 3:15-20).

4. Courage is born in faith. The scriptures advise us strongly to "Be on your guard; stand fast in the faith; be courageous, be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13). Paul's words echo God’s command to Joshua: "Be strong and of good courage ... very courageous" (Joshua 1:6-7). I can rest in God, knowing He is working behind the scenes and His plans cannot be thwarted.

5. Courage counts the cost. A woman of courage thinks before acting. Jesus’ invitation to follow Him came with the promise of tough times and a personal cross (Matthew 10:34, 38-39; John 15:20; 16:1-2). Paul warned that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus”—and that takes courage in our wicked culture—"will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12).

Courage might mean speaking up to a store clerk at the Holy Spirit's promptings, or it might entail taking a stand against an evil cultural trend. Courage obeys God in spite of the results or  man's responses (Acts 5:29). 

6. Courage suits up for battle. We need spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:11) because there is a battle! A relentless, set-on-our-destruction enemy has stepped up his tactics in these last days. We must be vigilant against him (1 Peter 5:8).  

Which of these aspects of courage is toughest for you when God asks you to do “scary things”?

Dawn Wilson is the founder of Heart Choices Ministries and creator of UpgradeWithDawn.com. Dawn's ministry encourages, edifies and energizes women with the truth of scripture so they can better enjoy life, bless others and honor God.

Friday
May102013

Six Financial Tips for Single Parents

Meet author and speaker Laura Petherbridge: Laura offers these tips for Single Parents … but I think her advice is good for any family!

“Single parent families are often faced with lower incomes and more stress than two-parent families,” Laura said. “With careful planning, creativity, and research, children from these families can obtain an excellent education. God wants to assure them that He has a plan—and it’s a good one!”

Here are a few suggestions from Laura to get started:

1. Learn

The most important step is to receive biblical teaching on what God says about money and possessions. Seminars and books can help, but the accountability that comes from a small group offers an incomparable dynamic. Seek a program that provides biblical instruction and practical application.

Too often we pray for God to send money to pay a bill, but haven’t sought His Word on how to properly handle what He has already given us. (1 Chronicles 29:11) 

2. Teach Your Children

Setting aside time to teach children about money and possessions has several benefits. It  provides the parent with one-on-one time kids often crave. It’s a parent’s job to teach them that overspending and debt only digs a deeper and bigger hole!

For teens and older children, use a resource that explains practical issues such as how to open checking/saving accounts, how to go on a job interview, etc. Help them plan for the purchase of a car or an item they desire—this puts some enthusiasm into the teaching. (Proverbs 21:5)

3. The Bad B Word: Budget

A budget helps a person comprehend where the money is going and what’s needed to make ends meet. Church leadership often knows of someone with expertise in this area who would be happy to assist. One word of caution … it takes time and a steady course to see results. (Proverbs 21:20)

4. Partnership with the Child

It’s crucial to instruct a child that he or she will be expected to work and save toward an education. A child should consider saving a portion of his or her allowance, birthday money, Christmas money, etc., as a contribution toward the future. As they see the money build, it should stir a sense of satisfaction and dignity. (Proverbs 12:14)

5. The Right Education

As early as age 13, look for tests and programs that help to reveal a child’s natural inclination and propensities. Choose a career guidance program that offers insight based on personality, vocational interests, abilities, priorities and spiritual giftedness. (Ephesians 2:10)

6. Financial Assistance for Education

Financial aid in the form of scholarships and grants are often available. Qualifying for assistance is often a function of the student’s academic performance in high school. An employer may offer scholarships to the child of a single parent or assistance to students who work for them. Your church may have a scholarship program.

Attending a community college or junior college can be a lower cost alternative. A career assessment may suggest a trade school, and the parent’s local state four year school may offer quality education. Most schools offer on-campus employment or a data bank that will assist students. Research co-op programs. The goal to keep in mind is not a diploma on the wall, but training for a career and a job that brings personal fulfillment. 

Are you a single parent? How have you seen God provide for your family’s needs?

Laura Petherbridge is an international speaker and author of, When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce, and The Smart Stepmom.

She has been featured on Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, Moody Broadcasting, Marriage Partnership and Crosswalk.com. Laura has two grown stepsons and resides in Summerfield, Florida, with her husband, Steve.

 

Wednesday
May082013

Six Secrets to 'Superb Communication'

Whether we are preparing to share a testimony, give a devotional, or create a message or lecture, there are some basic things we can do that will help us UPGRADE our communication. 

Meet Maria Keckler, founder and director of Superb Communication, who offers some wise advice. These tips can also help with our social media communication, and we may even be able to apply most (if not all) of these “secrets” to our communication in personal relationships! Superb communication makes a difference anywhere!

SUPERB COMMUNICATION INFOGRAPHIC

Did you get those steps? Superb communication tells a story, and is useful, prepared, eloquent, reliable and brief—to the point.

Which communication secret do you think would most UPGRADE your communication to others?

Maria Keckler is a speaker, author, and the president of Superb Communication, a consulting firm that specializes in improving results and reducing the cost of change through more robust communication. Read about and download Maria's latest tool that helps improve productivity by 30%.

 

Sunday
Mar242013

A Carefully-Designed Life 

Just as bread does not bake itself or a car cannot simply evolve, a well-lived life doesn't just happen. There is always a process that leads to a satisfying final product.

And there's a process that leads to a life that honors God.

Peter Walsh on the hit HGTV series Clean Sweep promoted a clear-cut designing process.  Before we can de-junk our homes, he explained, we need to envision what we want our homes to represent.

As a "client" stood in the doorway of a room, Walsh asked questions like:

   "What do you want this room to reflect?"

    "What is your vision for this room?"

Once a person articulated a clear vision, it was time to eliminate things that didn't belong - things that ran contrary to the vision.

The same is true in our lives. I call it the 5 C's.

First, we need to CLARIFY. In other words, we need a clear vision of who we want to be - better yet, who God wants us to be. Then, we need to CHUCK (eliminate) some attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that don't belong in that vision. Next, we CHOOSE better responses - we think and act with wisdom and in response to God's purpose and design. We COOPERATE with Him - through a yielded, obedient heart - in creating a whole new life and lifestyle. And then we CELEBRATE! We rejoice in the good work God is doing in and through us.

We follow this five-step process in every area, whether in our relationships, budgeting, parenting, what we eat, entertainment ... everything!

When I grasped this idea, I found I had a perception of myself that was decades old. My vision for my life was still marred by some wrong past choices, but God wanted to give me a new vision. He showed me who I am in Christ. I embraced His vision as the template for my life.

I have the opportunity to grow past all of my wrong choices. God can redeem every one of them!

Every single choice I make now is creating a new version of who I am. I am carefully designing my life. And so can you!

Being proactive in upgrading our lives is all about responsibility. There may be many reasons for the way we are, but never any excuses for how we remain if we are a child of God. We enjoy the precious presence of God's Spirit and have access to His power. We can't blame others. We may not have any control over our circumstances, but we can always choose our responses.

As a Christian, I choose to upgrade my life according to the wisdom found in the Word of God as I rely on the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18). It's an upgrade toward positive change in my mind and heart as I lean on God.

Self-effort will only go so far. It isn't trustworthy (Jeremiah 17:5-6). Any work of "the flesh" is weak, limited and temporal. But "blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord" (Jeremiah 17:7).

We can choose obedience and faithfulness. As we cooperate with God, we remember - transformation is ultimately His work. Our confidence is in Him.

What are you doing to carefully design your life? I invite you to share some examples of recent UPGRADE successes ... or where you still struggle to UPGRADE Your Life.


Dawn Wilson is the founder of Heart Choices Ministries and creator of UpgradeWithDawn.com. Dawn's ministry encourages, edifies and energizes women with the truth of scripture so they can better enjoy life, bless others and honor God.

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