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Entries in Upgrade with Dawn (313)

Tuesday
Mar212017

5 File Folders Save the Day!

Marcia Ramsland, a highly-respected organizing coach for businesses and individuals, sees paper messes everywhere. Fortunately, she knows exactly what to do with those stacks of paper.

“Do you have a kitchen paper pile that won't go away? Is your refrigerator full of reminders? Then,” Marcia says, “it's time to simplify the paper "mess" with a system.”

I (Dawn) wondered for a moment whether Marcia took a sneaky peak at my office… or saw the papers all over my kitchen counter!

I am organized in so many ways. But that paper stuff? Ugh.

Marcia continues . . .

My 5 File Folder System will clean that right up for you just as it has for hundreds of women across the country!

5 Files Can Turn a Pile into an Attractive File!

Did you know an average of fifteen pieces of mail arrive in your mailbox? If you flip through first and deal with only ten of the fifteen pieces, you are left with five dangling pieces a day. 

That’s why stacks of mail can appear from out of nowhere—they're waiting for you to come back "later," which usually never happens.

At the rate of five pieces of mail per day, that means 150 pieces a month or 1,565 pieces a year—sixteen inches of guilt piled on your countertop, refrigerator or desk.

Let's clean that up right now!

Five File Folders will clean up any mail piles from scattering across your kitchen countertop.

A portable file holder is a key ingredient to set up a “Personal Organizing Center.”  Every home needs one to conquer paper piles.

These Five File Folders Handle Daily Paper:

  1. Calendar
  2. To Do
  3. To Decide
  4. To Pay
  5. Your Name (and their own file for each additional person)

File #1: "CALENDAR"

Put an item in the CALENDAR file only after putting it on your monthly calendar. This cleans up “refrigerator clutter” and includes invitations, schedules, & upcoming events.

File #2: "TO DO"

Write it on a Master List in front of you and then put it in this file.

If it would take less than 5 minutes to do, don't even write it on the list—do it now!

Calendar your Master List items to the 3 days you can most control: Today, Tomorrow or the next day.

File #3: "TO DECIDE"

Place items that you are thinking about doing, ordering or following up on in here.

Then when you decide to do it, you know right where to find it!

The last day of the month, toss the unused items for a fresh start next month.

File #4: "TO PAY"

If you don’t have one place by your checkbook to pay bills, keep them in a designated file folder so they don’t get lost. Important!

File #5: "PERSONAL"

Keep your papers—each person's papers—in their own file. Go through it daily yourself or on the weekend with each person.

If something needs immediate attention, don't file it! Show it to the person that day. This should take care of the visible paper clutter.

Regular filing should be in another room beyond the "Personal Organizing Center" portable file.

Can you do that? Of course you can!

It easily applies to organizing your office, too.

Proverbs 13:4 always inspires me to be diligent in organizing paperwork.

“The sluggish crave and have nothing,
but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied!”

This five-file system is so simple, but it works. TRY IT!

So... which pile of papers are you going to tackle first?

Marcia Ramsland is The Leading Online Organizing Coach for Business & Life Success and coaches busy women to maximize their time and minimize their stress. Her “21 Day Total Office Cleanup” gives women the confidence and control that their work, email, and paperwork is all in order with personal coaching. Details at www.OrganizingPro.com/OfficeCleanup.

Monday
Mar202017

Virtual Hugs and Vertical Help

With the explosion of social media, there are countless opportunities to encourage our friends and family. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, Dawn Wilson shares two: Virtual Hugs and Vertical Help.

While it's better to spend some face-time with our friends and family, don't discount the value of encouraging Facebook-time!

It's my goal to encourage someone every day in some way. That's hard to do when I spend most of my time at my computer with work, blog management and personal writing.

But here are two ways anyone can be an encourager on social media.

1. Virtual Hugs

The word "virtual," as it is related to computers, means not physically existing as such, but made to appear to be true. A virtual hug is a practical social media way to encourage others.

I hear about a hurting friend or family member and I want to rush to their side and offer a huge hug and word of encouragement. But we are often miles aparteven states away or around the world!

I can certainly pick up a telephone and call them, or shoot them a quick text; but for ongoing encouragement, I can offer a "virtual hug" often and in a number of ways online:

  • I can empathize, seeking to understand and share in others' feelings.
  • I can share an encouraging quotation, maybe in a specially-created meme.
  • I can ask questions to help people process and come to wise conclusions.
  • I can offer a scriptureby text or memethat speaks hope into their situation.
  • I can post an article that might encourage or challenge for guidance or growth.
  • (And sometimes, I can set up an appointment to "do lunch" or meet somewhere for an actual hug, because there are times face-to-face is the only way to go.)

While my motives and efforts are good, I know virtual hugs can only go so far. I might not understand the real or deepest needs. So . . .

I invite the Lord into the encouragement process.

2. Vertical Help

I've learned to turn my thoughts and conversations into prayers for my friends and family. I especially do so to enlist the Lord's help in sticky, tough and seemingly-impossible situations.

We can do much to help others "horizontally," but we also need to seek aid "vertically" too.

In other words:

Our help and encouragement can be good, but God's help is always better.

We might have an agenda to our prayers, but the Lord most certainly has purposes beyond us. His thoughts and ways are so unlike ours (Isaiah 55:8). It's always wise to seek His will as we pray for ourselves and others.

More than an "I'm praying for you" or an even quicker "Praying" (although there is nothing wrong with those responses), I especially love to pause a little longer and actually write my prayer to the Lord on Facebook so my friend can join in.

As my prayers fly upward to the Lord for my Facebook friends, I picture God's help flowing down to encourage, assist, and even transform.

  • The Lord is our refuge and strengtha safe place for usand He is ready to help whenever we need Him (Psalm 46:1; Hebrews 13:6);
  • He understands what we're going through (Hebrews 4:15);
  • and when we trust Him completely, seeking His purposes, He stands ready to guide us (Hebrews 4:16; Proverbs 3:5-6).

It's a privilege to pray for our friends and family members with these truths and promises in mind.

How are you combining virtual hugs and vertical help to encourage and support your friends and family?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.      

Tuesday
Mar142017

Marriage Madness and the 3-Man Weave

Morgan Farr is a mom, Bible teacher and physical trainer. In this clever Marriage UPGRADE, she encourages us to practice a "drill" during basketball's "March Madness" that can make our marriages stronger.

"It is basketball season and March Madness to boot," Morgan says. "Marriage and basketball have a lot of similarities, especially when it comes to the fundamentals."

Now I (Dawn) have been a basketball fan since high school and both of my boys played, but never once did I think of a parallel between basketball and marriage, so Morgan's words made me say, "Huh?"

Morgan continues. . .

I love basketball, and not in a "Oh, I will watch it if it is on kind of way." I love basketball in a "I love the stats, the dialogue about the game, and the replays " kind of way.

I love to watch the games, listen to them on the radio, and read about them online. I also really enjoy playing basketball with friends and family. There is nothing quite like the rush of adrenaline that you get with the ball in your hand during a full court press!

Basketball taught me some of my hardest learned lessons in life.

I learned things like:

  • People will be better, smarter, and faster than you are. 
  • You will get knocked down at some point, but you have to get back up and finish the game.
  • You can't win a game without your team, no matter how "good" you are.

The team lesson has been a good reminder in my marriage. I often think of my marriage as being a 3-Man Weave Drill.

In a 3-Man Weave Drill, the players start out at one end of the court and then sprint toward the other end—all the while interweaving each other (like a braid) while passing the ball to one another. If you haven't studied or practised the 3-Man Weave, then it can look really complicated and intimidating.

Early on in the drill it is not unusual to see athletes running the wrong way, bumping in to teammates, and stumbling. But when you watch athletes that are proficient complete the drill it a beautiful, almost fluid movement.

Here is a video illustrating the motion in this drill.

 

That is all great and wonderful, but what does the 3-Man Weave have to do with March Madness; and more importantly, what does it have to do with marriage?

Being a Christian is like being involved in a constant 3-Man Weave, but it is no drill.

The players are you, your spouse, and God. The three of you move together down the court (through life) interweaving and moving the ball—your family.

If at any point one or more of the players is removed from the court, the weave doesn't work. You can still move the ball down the court, with just two or even one player. But it isn't nearly as effective or easy to do it that way.

The Bible talks about this idea in Ecclesiastes 4:12:

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken."

This is true in basketball and this is true in marriage.

With the madness that goes on in our world, it is important to keep our three players in communication and moving smoothly down the court.

Let me challenge you this March Madness season to fight the world's madness and focus on drawing close to your spouse and close to God.

What can you do to better run the 3 Man Weave in your marriage?

Morgan Farr is an Army wife currently stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with her wonderful husband Brian and their two sons. She is a homemaker who dedicates her free time to ministering to other Army wives through Bible studies, one-on-one interactions and physical training. Morgan writes about her transition out of feminism and into biblical womanhood on her blog. You can find her training programs on her blog, FarrFunctionalFitness.blogspot.com.

Thursday
Mar022017

"Even Though"—How to Upgrade Angry Reactions

Kolleen Lucariello's desire is to help people embrace their identity in Christ in practical ways. In this Attitude UPGRADE, she deals with anger and how our relationship with the Lord can change our responses.

"Don’t Get Mad, Get Even. This thought randomly ran through my mind,” Kolleen says, “as Pat and I traveled south down the Interstate in early January.

I (Dawn) was just cut off on a San Diego highway as a man quickly moved from one lane— across mine—to rush toward an off-ramp, putting several cars in danger. I panicked, and oh yes, I got that sudden angry response. Kolleen has a insight for us about how to deal with life's tough circumstances with a more scriptural response.

Kolleen continues . . .

Our GPS was programmed to guide us straight to the driveway of our son and daughter-in-law’s home, and I had just witnessed one more incidence of road rage on the highway (and my husband was not involved!).

We’ve observed some pretty scary moments during our travel time when angry drivers decide they wouldn’t get mad—they’d get evenbehind the wheel of a vehicle.

I was surprised a few days later when this same thought crossed MY mind as I felt my mad inside begin to rise. Don’t get mad, get even.

It’s been quite a few years since that’s been my motto for getting through life. Yet, over the next few days, the slightest irritation brought this phrase to mind.

I began to notice how effortlessly it is for some to quickly move into the get even lane.

But why had I?

Where was this sudden urge to get even for every offense coming from?

  • Did I have suppressed anger?
  • Was the constant chatter on social media making me hostile?
  • Hormones, maybe?

I decided it was time to pray and ask God to fill me in.  That’s when one word was added to the statement.

Though.

Now, the sentence running through my mind was, don’t get mad, get even… though. With an emphasis on even though.

Just a few days later I read this, “The Lord was with Joseph, and he [even though a slave] became a successful and prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian” (Genesis 39:2, AMP).

There it was, even though, and along with it, came my answer.

You upgrade your reaction when you:

1. Trust God is with you, even though you’re distressed, full of anguish and your cry seems unheard.

His very own brothers had sold Joseph into slavery. Can you imagine?  They saw the distress and anguish as Joseph pleaded for them to let him go but, the Amplified Bible says, they “would not listen to his cry” and he found himself a slave in another country (Genesis 42:21).

All betrayal is rough, but betrayal by a spouse, sibling, parent or the closest of friends strikes a devastating blow.

Betrayal inflicts such intense anguish and distress, you may wonder how you will ever survive. We can become slaves to the pain as we find ourselves wandering in a strange, unknown and unwanted land, where cries for mercy go unheard.

But just as God was with Joseph, even though he found himself in Egypt, He is with us in our even though land too.

2. Trust God is able to prosper you and bring you success, even though your circumstances are not what you dreamed.

Remember Joseph’s dreams? Sheaves bowed down to him. Evidently, he was able to move on from the delay of the dream. He excelled in everything that he did even though he was a slave; and because the Lord was always with him, he found success and prosperity.

I’m certain Joseph never imagined he’d find himself a slave in Egypt. He’s the perfect example for us of someone living out Colossians 3: 23-24:

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (NIV).

The Lord is with those who protect their attitude even though the work might not be exactly what we dreamed.

3. Trust God’s purposes even though we may not understand them at the time.

Something I find remarkable in the story of Joseph is this: not once is there any mention of Joseph plotting in his heart how to get even with anyone who betrayed himnot his brothers, Potiphar’s wife, nor the chief cupbearer who failed to follow through on his promise to remember Joseph when he was released from prison. Not even Potiphar for assuming the worst and never seeking to hear his side of the story. Not once.

Instead, he saw God in the even though when he stood face to face with his brothers and recognized that even though they intended evil towards him, God’s intended purpose was for good.

Rather than living by the don’t get mad, get even motto, add the word though as a reminder of how God can bless us in our even though moments.

Are you going through something right now that tempts you to get even? How can the truth of “even though” help you upgrade your reaction?

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC’s of Who God Says I Am. Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She’s a mother of three married children and Mimi to four incredible grandkids. She desires to help others find their identity in Christ, one letter at a time. Connect with Kolleen here.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Megapixelstock, Stocksnap.io.

Tuesday
Feb212017

Comfort Zone / Chocolate Zone

In this UPLIFT post, Rhonda Rhea encourages us to step out in faith—maybe more faith than we think we have.

"Think chocolate is not the answer? Maybe," Rhonda says, "you're not asking the right questions."

Ok now. Rhonda had me (Dawn) at the word "chocolate." Say that word and I'm like a dog hearing the word "squirrel." But knowing Rhonda, there's some spiritual truth in here somewhere.

She continues . . .

Okay, I do know chocolate is not really the answer to all the world’s problems. But it does sort of make a challenge a bit more palatable.

Chocolate-coating our discomforts—couldn’t hurt, right? Sometimes chocolate is not only in my comfort zone, but chocolate is my comfort zone.

Did you hear about the recent scientific study that determined 10 out of 9 people appreciate chocolate? It doesn’t matter so much that the math doesn’t exactly work, I don’t argue with it.

As a matter of fact, I’ve sometimes wondered how much it would take to cause me to say the words “Now that’s just too much chocolate.” And while I don’t know how much, I’m more than willing to explore the topic through my own personal research.

Other studies—real ones—are always citing more ways chocolate is good for you. So I’ve decided to no longer consider myself a few pounds overweight.

I’ve decided to instead think of myself as “chocolate-enriched.”

That’s my comfort zone and I’m sticking to it. Also, it’s sort of sticking to me.

There are comfort zones and there are comfort zones.

When God commissioned Joshua after the death of Moses, He gave Joshua instructions about the new land He was to possess. He said to him, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, ESV).

Sometimes God calls us to step out of everything comfortable.

We see it all through Scripture. God called Moses to step out before the mantle was passed to Joshua. God called Abraham to leave his home and everything familiar to him to take off to zones unknown. He called Samuel, He called Isaiah, He called so many more. Jesus called His disciples to step out of their comfortable lives and to follow Him with abandon.

There aren’t a lot of things in this life I can promise will happen, but I can promise this. At some point you will be called to step out of your comfort zone.

Don’t be caught off guard. Don’t think you’re being reprimanded. And even more importantly, don’t think for a second that He is not with you in that less-than-comfy place. Be strong. Be courageous. Know He is with you.

It’s good to remember that stepping out of our comfort zone is also stepping into the comfort of His Holy Spirit. It’s amazing—even in discomfort, there’s comfort! Real comfort. It’s comfort not in a place, not in a possession, not in a food—it’s in a Person, the Person of our mighty God of all comfort.

His is the zone of victory—even miracles. Paul spoke of how the churches in Macedonia, though they were in a zone of great discomfort, gave “as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability,” (2 Corinthians 8:3, NIV). God makes it possible for us to do more than is possible for us to do. It’s “10 out of 9” kind of math, only it’s very real.

As you step out in faith, you’ll find there’s growth in every new place the Lord leads you. You can rest assured He will never ask you to step out of one zone into another without His presence, without His purpose or without His empowering.

There’s great comfort there. Sometimes there’s even chocolate.

Where might God be asking you to step outside your comfort zone and into a place of growth?

Rhonda Rhea is a humor columnist, radio personality, speaker and author of 10 books, including How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person?, Espresso Your Faith - 30 Shots of God's Word to Wake You Up, and a book designed to encourage Pastor's Wives (P-Dubs): Join the Insanity. Rhonda, a sunny pastor's wife, lives near St. Louis and is "Mom" to five grown children. Find out more at www.RhondaRhea.com.