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Tuesday
May212013

Five Tips for Cheap Chic

Meet Jill Swanson:  A couple of years ago, Jill stood in my bedroom, helping me go through my wardrobe—piece by piece. We made big piles to give away, throw away, mend, and set aside to look for items to complete outfits. My closet never looked so spacious and organized! Jill was especially sensitive to my limited budget and I still use her color insights. (Turquoise became my "signature" color that day!)

“You can have beauty without breaking the bank,” Jill said. “As a professional image consultant, I love to teach women how to look like million without spending it.”

Here are a few of Jill’s favorite tips.

1. Organize first, shop later. Sort out the good, the bad and the ugly. This will reacquaint you with what you already own and possibly set you up for some extra income. What was “bad” for you could be good for someone else. Consignment stores are always looking for up-to-date, gently-worn clothing to resell, and that means money in your pocket. 

2. Get creative. Ugly can become useful. Before you trash that white blouse with the yellowed armpits – harvest the unique buttons off of it. I find beautiful buttons, appliqué and lace on garage sale garments and transplanted them onto my tired wardrobe basics.

3. “Know thyself” and dress accordingly. Go back to the “good” – what worked for you? Was it the color? Style? Fabric? Or perhaps just the fact that it fit a role in your lifestyle.  If you stay at home and have a closet full of business clothes, it’s time to reprioritize and spend your money where you spend your time. Give yourself permission to buy better quality and get a good fit in your “at-home” clothes. Duplicate winning colors and styles from those tried and true pieces that worked in your past.

4. Accessorize and shop wisely.  Invest in scarves, jewelry and add-ons (vests, belts, etc.) to change your look with a little color and decor. Shop consignment stores and department store sale racks for clothes (better quality). Use import shops and teen departments for trendy accessories.

5. Minimize. Learn to be content with less. Owning a few pieces that look fabulous on you is better than having much that looks mediocre!

What's your favorite fashion tip?

Jill Swanson, Image Coach, author and Christian speaker, helps women make the most of what they’ve been blessed with. For consultations (online or in person) and or to check out Jill's newest book, Out the Door in 15 Minutes, please visit www.jillswanson.com.

 

Saturday
May182013

Our Part: 'Responding' 

Although the Christian’s life is transformed by the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit—and we never want to forget that—there are plenty of commands in the scriptures that show our part in responding to the scriptures and Spirit of God.

Here are some things we can do that God can use to UPGRADE our lives spiritually ... but they are also the catalysts to change in many areas of life:

1. Realize Our Need for God. Not only do we need Him for our salvation, we need Him to become holy, effective servants in His kingdom. UPGRADING isn’t about self-effort; it’s about God’s effort in us. Christ will strengthen us (Philippians 4:13), and God is faithful to help us (1 Corinthians 10:13), but we need to respond to Him—yield to Him (Romans 6:1-19) and not try to change independent of Him.

2. Renew Our Mind (Romans 12:2). We do this as we read, study and memorize the Bible. Not only will we discover more about the God who loves us, we will find ways to overcome temptation, find freedom from habits and addictions, and become a success - by God’s definition (Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Joshua 1:8; Proverbs 3:5-7; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12).

3. Respond to the Scriptures. We decide to obey. (I have a "Yes, Lord" reminder card in my Bible.) We create a plan to upgrade our lives based on the scriptures. Devise to do good, not evil (Proverbs 14:22). We are to be steadfast (1 Corinthians 15:58) and obedient (James 1:22-25). We can ask God how to become His disciple with “steadfast purpose” (James 1:5; Luke 14:26-33; Acts 11:23).

4. Repent as God leads. Repentance is changing our mind about sin with determination to stop sinning and live for God (Acts 8:22). God does not want His children to cover up sins and weaknesses. He doesn’t want us to excuse ourselves or blame others. We need true sorrow over sin (2 Corinthians 7:10). God has provided all we need to repent and change. Put off sinful habits and put on new ones (Ephesians 4:22-32).

5. Reach out to others in the Body of Christ. We are in one body, unified in Christ, to encourage and help each other obey, serve and worship God. When we struggle, we can share our need and pray for each other (James 5:16; Galatians 6:2). We attend church to learn more about God, but also to be encouraged and encourage others toward “love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

6. Rely on God for the Changes We Need. This is God-confidence. The Spirit of will empower us to live for the Lord. If we commit to Him, He will accomplish His will in and through us (Psalm 37:5; 2 Corinthians 9:8). We can pray for His help (1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6-7), especially when tempted (Matthew 26:36-46). It’s wise to be patient for change (Galatians 6:9; 2 Peter 3:18), and live the Christian life one day at a time (Matthew 6:33-34), giving ourselves grace—because God gives us grace!

Which of these areas of ‘Responding’ is the hardest for you?


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.

Thursday
May162013

Shopping to Create Your 'Haven'

Meet Diane DeanI met Diane when we attended the same church in San Diego. She is a woman I admire, a multi-gifted woman who honors God. Whether teaching a Bible study or showing women how to create a lovely, inviting home within her budget, Diane knows what she’s talking about.

“In our early years of ministry, we were on a tight budget and I had to be creative as a homemaker,” Diane said. “Friends always asked me for help with their homes. In my mid-thirties I decided to go back to school and study design. I see my business as a ministry. “My mission statement is ‘Making homes a haven to those who live there and a joy to those who visit.’”

Though created to help women work with store sales associates, Diane’s tips, below, are helpful for anyone wanting to UPGRADE her home. [Notes in italics are Dawn’s]

Suggestions for Successful Shopping

1. Consider your budget. This will enable your design consultant to point you in the right direction. Interest-free financing is often an option.

Pretty things shouldn’t cause worry-stress over how you’re going to pay for them; but Diane says, “Budget shouldn’t be an excuse for not having a ‘haven.’ With some planning and creativity, that can happen on any budget.”

2. Make a list of your priorities. Few clients can buy everything at once. Start with your basic requirements and build off of them.

3. Share the priority list with your design consultant. This allows the designer to help you with your master plan.

Even if you don’t have a consultant, you can make a master plan. Pray over and make wise decisions to fit that plan.

4. Measure your space, including doorways, the fireplace hearth and windows. Important: Bring the room measurements with you! If you are buying bar stools, know the height of the counter.

5. Bring fabric samples and paint colors with you. Also bring photos of your room and furniture you want to keep.

6. Cut photos from magazines of rooms that you like. Make notes about each photo and what appeals to you about it. For example - is it the furniture style, the fabrics or the colors? Or is it the flooring and the accessories?

Diane also suggests taking a camera (or cell phone with a camera) and tape measure to consultations and shopping.

“Keep everything in a tote bag in your car and you will always be prepared,” she said.

Diane Dean is a ministry wife, mother, grandmother, Bible teacher, seminar and retreat speaker, and designer for Diane Dean Interiors, LLC (www.dianedeaninteriors.com).

Her blog, www.dianestraditions.blogspot.com, is a potpourri of information from her personal experience and she welcomes questions.

 

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.