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And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson


Entries in Grief (4)


4 Steps to Dealing with Disappointment

I have no doubt Kathy Carlton Willis is qualified to teach us on the subject of disappointment in this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE. I was on her prayer team last year when she experienced what she calls, “back-to-back-to-back disappointments.”

"I started the year in the hospital for a post-surgical infection," Kathy says. "It required additional surgery, going home with a PICC line, and a change in plans to allow time for recovery."

I (Dawn) think most of us would struggle with just that, but Kathy's tale of struggle and disappoint went on and on. And so did her commitment to deal with those struggles in a "grin with grace way.

Kathy continues . . . 

I was so disappointed in how that impacted my year. I had to cancel contracts with clients and postpone a writer’s getaway.

My diet and exercise plans were on pause, too. Everything just felt off kilter.

Then, when I finally got back in the swing of things, I had four disappointments hit almost simultaneously.

  • I developed a urinary tract infection that wouldn’t go away.
  • The antibiotic I took for it caused a tendon injury.
  • Hurricane Harvey hit.
  • And if that wasn’t enough, it flooded a home we had in contract.

Notice I said, “had.” Harvey nullified the purchase.

Oh, and somewhere in all of that, I received a book rejection from a publishing house.

I’m not going to bore you with all the other commonplace disappointments, but these were the biggies!

You’ve had years like that, right? How did you handle the disappointments? Maybe you are going through a frustrating setback right now.

I’ve learned it doesn’t work to ignore the loss, and it’s not healthy to stay stalled out.

Each disappointment requires a process.

Here’s my 4-Step Process for Dealing with Disappointment.

1. Rightfully MOURN the loss.

Joy has left our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning. (Lamentations 5:15 NLT)

Disappointments stem from losing something we had or not getting something for which we hoped. Either way, we experience sadness.

Grieving is a painful process, but if we try to avoid it, we only manage to delay healing. When we mourn, the sadness subsides, and we are ready to move on.

2. Receive more of God's COMFORT and peace.

Look up the words "comfort" and "peace" in the Bible and you’ll see it is the Holy Spirit’s role to soothe your soul. Don't feel guilty for needing it—we all do!

Will you invite God’s Spirit to embrace you, rock you, and sing songs of consolation?

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT)

3. Ask God’s DIRECTION for something new or something to renew.

Once you’ve received God’s comfort, it’s time to look around to see what God has next for you, rather than continue self-reflecting.

It’s possible He will use your story to help someone else.

God helps you gain closure from your hurt so the pain no longer blinds you from your purpose.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

4. Move on with a RENEWED passion or project in something bigger than yourself.

There’s nothing like a new project to keep me going despite the let downs!

I anticipate seeing God at work, producing lightbulb moments.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT)

These are my four steps to deal with disappointment. Which step are you ready to take?

God’s Grin Gal, Kathy Carlton Willis, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s a speaker and author with over a thousand articles online and in print, as well as her Bible study, Grin with GraceShe’s a bi-monthly columnist with CBN and a devotional writer for Todd Starnes. She and her husband Russ live in Texas with Jazzy, their hilarious Boston Terrier.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Geralt at Pixabay.


Growth through Grief

Yvonne Ortega, a woman who moved from broken to beautiful, encourages others to do so as well. In this Trials and Victory UPGRADE, Yvonne invites us to grow and thrive after grief.

“I rode an emotional roller coaster of grief because of the loss of my mother and my only child within weeks of each other,” Yvonne says. “Somehow, my losses couldn’t be in vain.”

I (Dawn) cannot imagine some of the things Yvonne has experienced, but I know her words are true. The Lord does meet us in our time of need, and He doesn't leave us without resources to thrive.

Yvonne continues . . .

After my mother and my son died, I needed to make sense of losing them. I had to do something that would improve the lives of others.

My purpose had to be bigger than learning to thrive after grief.

Leaving a legacy became important.

Six months after my son’s death, I left the counseling job I enjoyed to pursue my dream of becoming a full-time speaker and author.  

Here are THREE TIPS that will help you when you’re ready to think about a mission or purpose for your life.

1. Reflection

I reflected on what my mother did in her life. She had helped teachers, students and school districts through her expertise in grant writing. She helped 26 women complete college degrees, obtain teaching credentials and gain employment as teachers.

She left a legacy.

I asked God to show me how I could leave a legacy. I sensed His leading to do that through articles on my website and on others’ blogs. I also sensed that my educational, social, and spiritual encounters with other people could encourage and support them.

The unexpected death of my son made me understand I wasn’t promised tomorrow either. If I wanted to become a full-time speaker and author, I couldn’t put that dream off any longer. So, I left my counseling job to leave a legacy through speaking and writing.

2. Prayer

Based on what God showed me about leaving a legacy, I prayed for divine appointments and His special mentors or coaches.

I claimed Psalm 28:7:

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy,  and with my song I praise him" (NIV).

God answered my prayers. I attended additional speaker boot camps and conferences, individual coaching for both my speaking and writing, and writers’ conferences. Before each event, I prayed and asked others to pray with me that I would meet the people God wanted me to meet and work with those he chose.

God brought the most interesting and talented people into my life—men and women I would have never met otherwise.

3. Surrender

I chose to surrender my finances, time and energy to God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.

I needed to limit leisure days of sleeping in, lunch dates with friends, and shopping days at the mall. As I said no to a social whirlwind, I said yes to scheduled time on my calendar for reading, speaking, and writing. I couldn’t have done that without lots of prayer and obedience to God’s plan on how I would leave a legacy.

God’s favor and faithfulness led to my speaking opportunities and two more books.

Allow your tears to water growth and increase your ministry.

If you’ve lost a loved one, sit alone with God and ask him how YOU can grow through grief and help others.

Yvonne Ortega is a licensed professional counselor, a bilingual professional speaker, and the author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful© through Grief (out in a few months / search at Amazon/books). She has also written Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer. Yvonne not only survived, but thrived after a domestic violence marriage, breast cancer and the loss of her only child. With honesty and humor, she uses personal examples and truths of the Bible to help women move from broken to beautiful. Find out more about Yvonne at her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of uroburos at Pixabay.


Getting Through Your Grief

I met Yvonne Ortega at AWSA, a writer's and speaker's conference in 2015. I was so surprised by her persistent joy. So many struggles conspired to keep this woman of God down, but she emerged victorious. In this helpful Grief and Ministry UPGRADE, she shares her story and what she learned about grief.

"I’ll never forget that Thursday night after work in May," Yvonne said. "I read an email that said, 'I’m sorry to hear the news about your son Brian. Call me"

I called my friend in California and said, 'What news about Brian?'

"She thought I knew my only child had died unexpectedly after eye surgery. Living on the opposite coast, I didn’t. Tears gushed down my checks. I could hardly talk."

I (Dawn) cannot imagine this mother heart's pain! I wonder, if I knew Yvonne during those dark days, would I have known what to say? Yvonne has some wise counsel about that.

She continues . . .

That was six years ago within weeks after the loss of two aunts and my mother. I walked around in shellshock.

Reality set in one year later on Mother’s Day.

Without my mother and son, there would be no cards, calls, gifts or visits. Only AGONY!

Here are three tips that helped me get through the grief.

First, I realized I couldn’t do it alone.

I went to The Compassionate Friends, a support group for those who’ve lost a child. That group met monthly. I also went to GriefShare, a weekly support group for those who’ve lost a loved one. I received a GriefShare workbook and a devotional.

Second, I needed to be honest about my feelings.

I didn’t need to be strong. I wouldn’t ruin my testimony if I cried.

God made me with tear glands. Jesus wept when Lazarus died, and He knew He would raise him from the dead.

I clung to 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

As I poured my heartaches and struggles into my journal, I sensed God’s presence.

Third, I accepted the fact that some people would do better not saying anything.

Friends like Job’s said,

  • “We all suffer little losses.” (How could the loss of my only child be little?)
  • “At least you know he’s in heaven.” (I was doubled over in pain because he’d never walk through my front door again, never call me or send me a card again. I couldn’t call or visit him or send him a card or a gift either.)
  • “I heard your son committed suicide.” (She heard a lie.)
  • Call me if you need me.” (I never called anyone who said that.)

Others knew what to say:

  • “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
  • “I will miss Brian.”
  • “I’ll be over tomorrow at 1:00 pm to clean your house.”
  • “I want to fix dinner for you tonight. Do you have food allergies or foods you dislike?”
  • “I’m on the way to the post office. I can buy stamps for you.”
  • “What can I pick up for you when I go to the grocery store?”
  • “I’m going to the bookstore. If you need thank you notes, I’ll get them.”

I received God’s comfort and now share that comfort with others. I found peace and joy again, but not overnight.

If you’ve lost a loved one, what will you do this week to help you get through your grief?

If you know someone who is grieving, what can you say that’s helpful?

Yvonne Ortega is a licensed professonal counselor, a bilingual professional speaker and a speaking coach. She's the author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward (2015) and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer (2010). She has not only survived but also thrived after a domestic violence marriage, breast caner and the loss of her only child. With honesty and humor, Yvonne uses personal examples and the truths of the Bible to help women move from broken to beautiful.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat at


Our Comforting God

Are you in need of comfort today? Harriet Bouchillon, who ministered alongside her husband for 40 years, discovered the precious presence of our comforting God in a great time of need. If you are hurting, I pray God will UPLIFT your spirit today.

“Since my husband Jim’s promotion to Heaven,” Harriet writes, “I have learned that unwelcomed and not always healthy thoughts often come during the grieving process.”

Anyone who has struggled through grief, even as a Christian, understands what Harriet is talking about. Confused thoughts and roller coaster emotions are normal.

Harriet continues …

During an especially melancholy day four months after Jim’s death, I was dwelling on what his unspoken thoughts might have been as he lay in his sick bed. What did he remember most about our life together? And what were his thoughts about me?

It so happened that was the day I chose to clean out Jim’s desk. In the process, I came across an unsigned “to my wife” birthday card.

My mind raced back to my birthday the previous year, when Jim was in remission from cancer. Frustration was in his voice as he gave me a lovely gift. He had also purchased a beautiful card, he said, and had put it in a safe place. But now he couldn’t find it!

Oh, my dear Jim—if he could only understand that just having him still with me was enough, with or without a card!

The timing of the card’s delivery was perfectly orchestrated by God.

Only He could know I would need it the exact moment of its discovery. Tears flowed as I read the beautiful, comforting words that I took as coming directly from Jim’s heart to mine.

“The man who finds a wife finds a good thing; she is a blessing to him from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:12, The Living Bible).

There are moments when I catch myself saying,

         Wow, that’s my wife.

They seem to come in the most ordinary times—

When you’re laughing with our family,

When we’re having dinner with friends,

When you and I are together doing nothing at all.

I’m still just amazed that out of all the men in the world,

I’m the one who gets to share life with you.

After all this time, I still don’t know all the reasons why God trusted me

With one of His most amazing gifts . . .

          But I’ll be grateful for the rest of my life that He did.

Happy Birthday. I Love You.

How true is God’s Word when He says, “I, even I, am He who comforts you” (Isaiah 51:12).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

Can you remember a time when God comforted you in your hour of need? Are you in need right now of God’s comforting ministry in your life?

Harriet Bouchillon has served as a missionary with Camino Global since 1972, ministering alongside her husband, Jim, in Spain, Mexico and Hispanic USA. She blogs at "Blessed by the Grace of God" (English and Spanish versions). Harriet, recently widowed, disciples, teaches, and mentors women. This mother to three and grandmother to six makes her home in El Cajon, California. Read her story about overcoming the fear of death in the tract, "Confessions of a Mortician's Daughter" (also here in Spanish).