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And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson


Entries in Flexibility (3)


Bounce, Don't Break

Deb DeArmond is passionate about family matters, and she encourages healthy interactions in all kinds of relationships. But in this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she helps us deal with recurring struggles and trials.

"Returning struggles. Just when you think you've cleared the hurdle, they present again," Deb says. "They can sap your strength, shake your confidence, and cause you to question God. How to manage? Bounce, don't break!"

I (Dawn) just dealt with a recurring struggle in early January. "I thought I'd already dealt with that," I said. It made me feel weak as I reeled in confusion. But I attest to what Deb is saying. Resiliency as we trust in Christ enables us to move forward.

Deb continues . . .

I could see her out of the corner of my eye. She was watching me. Again.

She wasn’t a creepy stranger on the street, but a trusted colleague. Her intentions were good, but it was uncomfortable.

Carrie was one of a handful of co-workers who knew of my heart problem. She’d been with me—on the road two years earlier—when it began. I knew she was concerned; our work assignment this day brought heat and elevation into the equation. Both could create issues for me. And they did.

After my initial diagnosis, I had surgery that corrected the problem.

The doctor was sure it would not re-emerge. He was wrong. A year later, a second surgery and more assurances felt less certain for a permanent solution. I felt great for five months, and then it returned.

And now Carrie, and a handful of others, made it their personal mission to watch me like a hawk.

I never questioned their motives, but the fact they felt the need to monitor me made me feel old, frail, and weak. I am none of those things. But there are days, I work hard to convince myself of that truth.

Returning struggles.

Just when you think you've cleared the hurdle, they present again. And whether they're health problems, financial struggles or any recurring hardships—they can sap your strength, shake your confidence, and cause you to question God.

So, what's the key to keep moving forward with peace and confidence?

BOUNCE—don't break.


Our confidence is in God's faithfulness.

He loves His children and strengthens us for the situation, even when He doesn't remove it. I've discovered new levels of certainty that He's ever present.


Offer thanksgiving and praise for the solution.

Faith is trust in God that doesn't demand He deliver on our timetable. Honor Him by trusting His Word.


Understand you may not understand.

As toddlers, our favorite question was "Why?" As adults, we are just taller two-year-olds—with an overwhelming need for an answer.

Sometimes God provides us that insight; sometimes He does not. Be okay with not knowing.


Navigate your new normal.

  • Curb spending on restaurant meals.
  • Consider how best to invest your energy level each day.
  • Accommodate changes that minimize the impact of the issue.


Communicate with family and trusted friends about your circumstances, especially when it's health related.

The colleagues I travel with know what to do if I have an issue. They know how to access the information on my phone and are clear about the details that would be needed in an emergency.


Educate yourself in the promises of God's Word and the issues you face.

  • Financial problem? Take a class on financial stewardship.
  • Health issue? Ask your physician for information and suggestions for books or articles that can help you learn about your options.

What does the Bible say about struggles?

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” James 1:2-4 (ESV).

Blessed are the FLEXIBLE, for they shall not break!

What can you do to bounce into action?

Deb DeArmond’s passion is family—not just her own, but the relationships within families in general. Her first book, Related by Chance, Family by Choice: Transforming the Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law Relationships explores tools and tips to building sound relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Book #2, I Choose You Today, helps couples strengthen their marriages. Deb's new book on marital conflict, Don't Go to Bed Angry, Stay Up and Fight! was co-authored by her husband, Ron. They live in the Fort Worth area. For more about Deb, visit her "Family Matters" site.


Your Life Makeover: Are You Ready?

Wildfire survivor Elizabeth Van Tassel garners encouraging real-life stories and creates fantasy for kids with one goal in mind—helping tweens, teens, and adults find RESILIENCE amidst the most challenging times in life.


In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she encourages us to be open to life makeovers, so God’s touch will be evident in our lives.

“I didn’t ask for this season of great change, but I knew there was a whisper of something more packed into the move," Elizabeth said. "There’s a moment when you decide to either live a life of calling or of complacency. I didn’t want any regrets."

I (Dawn) think we can identify with seasons of change—expected and unexpected. But how we approach those changes makes a huge difference.

Elizabeth continues . . .

My husband looked stunned at the out-of-town, unsolicited job offer he’d received. It was an amazing opportunity for him, but I hesitated at first.

Our infant son’s third word was “box,” because our family had moved six times in two years.

Those were awful, unplanned and emergency-tinged after losing everything we owned in a massive wildfire years ago.

So, the word “move” provided a real challenge for me.

But the experience of giving everything to the Lord, and watching Him build a life for us again also freed me to invest in hope.

I said yes, and jumped.

Right now, we’re living in boxes in temporary housing, and breathing in the moment of trust daily.

  • Where will we live? Not sure yet.
  • Where will my grocery store be? Must remain flexible.

It’s like the TV show where they show up and dump your old clothes and take you on a shopping spree for a whole new look.

Are you open to His leading when this happens? Where does your life need transformation?

What if you’re cruising along, pretty content with life in general, and then a great change arrives?

Are you ready to be receptive to that ‘still, quiet voice’ prompting you to be open to something new? What could you miss if you’re not listening? Can dark times of loss and recovery actually make you MORE resilient?

Here’s what David had to say in Psalm 36:7-9:

“The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”

Your ability to be RESILIENT, or flexible enough to bend rather than break when pressures rise and life brings more stress, is to be able to UPGRADE as you do three things.

1. Nestle in closer, even when you don’t feel safe.

It’s all right to realize you’re a bit fragile. Ironically, those brittle moments are when we can uncover a new relationship with Christ.

Share your dreams and feelings. Give yourself time and permission to hang out in the Word and in conversational prayer. It can bring connection and healing. Perhaps those moments when you need “refuge” will bring you even closer to Him.

2. Look for abundance in unexpected places.

When your life situations shift dramatically, there will be losses. Friends, or homes, or even jobs may change.

But in that season, what new doors are being opened?

Is it a caring friend who unexpectedly shows up to help?

Are you developing a new skill?

You never know how God can use your situation.

Be open to new lessons.

Where there’s growth, there’s a chance for Him to retool something; because He LOVES makeovers—those of the heart—the most.

3. Search for a river of delights.

So many people, perhaps hundreds, have asked me how we stayed positive, our marriage survived, and our children have coped with so much change. We found a way to be intentional with our time and our activities, and even planned more fun into our priorities—thanks to our kids’ perspective!

Time slows when there’s loss or death or depleted resources. Eventually, after some healing, you’re ready for significant questions in uncovering how to live a life of calling rather than just getting by.

You’ll find that river of delights when you sit quietly and ask Him:

  • For refreshment.
  • For the next breath.
  • For deliverance.
  • And for acceptance.

So, are you ready to take a breath, listen more, and learn from painful moments? Can you pack your own boxes? What’s holding you back?

Elizabeth Van Tassel, resilience expert and fantasy writer, has really lived a life with diamonds, wildfires, and miracles. A wildfire survivor and gemologist who lost every possession and her home in the 2007 Witch Creek Wildfire, she winds tales of wondrous gems and destructive loss into fantastic fantasy for the next generation and beyond. She also speaks, writes nonfiction, and blogs weekly for adults and kids about living a resilient life. Learn more about Elizabeth here.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Ron Porter at Pixabay.


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