Member of AWSA

  Info about AWSA

 

[Bios on Partners Page]

PARTNERS:

Lina AbuJamra

Sue Badeau

Dianne Barker

Twila Belk

Gail Bones

Harriet Bouchillon

Mary Carver

Pamela Christian

Lisa Copen

Erin Davis

Diane Dean

Deb DeArmond

Kelly DeChant

Danna Demetre

Melissa Edgington

Debbi Eggleston

Pat Ennis

Morgan Farr

Pam Farrel

Liz Cowen Furman

Gail Goolsby

Sheila Gregoire

Doreen Hanna

Holly Hanson

Becky Harling

Debbie Harris

Nali Hilderman

Cathy Horning

Kathy Howard

Mary James

Priscilla Jenson

Lane P. Jordan

Rebecca Jordan

Ellie Kay

Maria Keckler

Sylvia Lange

Debby Lennick

Peggy Leslie

Kathi Lipp

Kolleen Lucariello

Kathi Macias

Paula Marsteller

Melissa Mashburn

Dianne Matthews

Cindi McMenamin

Elaine W. Miller

Kathy Collard Miller

Lynn Mosher

Karen O'Connor

Yvonne Ortega

Arlene Pellicane

Ava Pennington

Laura Petherbridge

Gail Purath

Marcia Ramsland

Kaley Rhea

Rhonda Rhea

Vonda Rhodes

Cynthia Ruchti

Julie Sanders

Judy Scharfenberg

Deedra Scherm

Laurel Shaler

Joanie Shawhan

Stephanie Shott

Poppy Smith

Susan K. Stewart

Stacie Stoelting

Jill Swanson

Janet Thompson

Janice Thompson

Teri Thompson

Brittany Van Ryn

Elizabeth Van Tassel

Leslie Vernick

Laurie Wallin

Julie Watson

Joan C. Webb

Cherri Williamson

Kathy C. Willis

Debbie W. Wilson

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Jamie Wood

   and Founder:

   Dawn Wilson

 

Entries in Upgrade with Dawn (320)

Tuesday
Apr252017

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.

Wednesday
Apr192017

Spring Cleaning: The Downsizing Dilemma (Part 2)

In Part One of Pam Farrel's post about downsizing, she shared two important Organization UPGRADE questions she asked when downsizing to prepare to move in to a live-aboard boat. To review:

1. Is it in good shape, does it fit, and does it work?

2. Do I love it? Does it bring me joy or turn my heart toward a relationship with God or someone I love.

In PART TWO, Pam shares three more principles. 

Pam continues . . .

3. Do I need it?

You don’t own your things, your things own you. Everything you possess has the ability to possess your time and energyand space in your home.

Look to see if you have duplicates, and give the extra away to a young couple or a student moving into his or her first apartment.

As I began to give away our things, I prayed God would send people to me that I could bless. On just one day, two womenone a young mom with a toddler whose husband left her, and the other a grandmother who had one of her children and five of her grandchildren living with hercame my way.

Each had lost a home in a fire so they needed ANYTHING extra I was willing to part with. Giving away my furniture and household items to these precious women brought me joy!

Another day, one of my friends who works with international students at a Christian University, shared about a pastor’s family coming from Africa with several children, and they each only had one small bag. I was able to give them furniture and eight bags of clothes, cleaning products, personal care items and almost an entire kitchen full of gadgets and dishes.

It was an honor to have this courageous pastor and family eat off my humble plate.  

4. Could I replace it in a fire?

My next door neighbor lost nearly everything she owned in a forest fire. And my friend, Carole Lewis, author of Give God A Year, lost her home and all its belongings in a hurricane.

Prayer-walking with these godly women gave me first-hand experience of what really was missed when all had been lost.

  • They each shared that nearly ALL furniture and household items are easily replaced.
  • But the one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments made by your son in second grade, or your marked-up Bibles and filled-in journals are irreplaceable.

5. Is it an heirloom or an item that validates a godly heritage?

It is likely you are much more attached to many of the things concerning your children (that you have been saving) than they are!

I found my daughters-in-law were more interested in the contents of the bins I had safeguarded for years than my sons. And when it came down to selecting and taking items to their homes, they each took only about a third of what I had saved.

What stood out to me the most is that our society gives WAY TOO MANY PARTICIPANT TROPHIES!

I took photos of many items of memorabilia, then gave these away to charities.

The things that were cherished and soaked with meaning, like family photo albums and videos, Bibles, family china and crystal, or art people had been inspired to create from the messages we taughtthese were the cherished and valued pieces of our legacy.

Ask yourself, "Can I give NOW to those I love, rather than wait until after my death?"

By giving legacy items now, your words and prayers can accompany the gifts—creating yet another cherished memory.

Need, replacement and legacywhich of these factors will affect what you cherish and keep or what you release to bless others.

DON'T WAIT. Do it today.

Pam Farrel is author of 45 books including her newest, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success in Keeping It All Together. Pam gains most delight in time shared with people she loves, her husband (and co-author), Bill and her three sons and three daughters in law and 4 young grandchildren, who soon will all be vacationing on the boat which will be moored in Southern California.  She also loves prayer walks on the beach with those women she mentors, other writers and her many cherished friends. Learn more about Pam at www.Love-wise.com.

Tuesday
Apr182017

Spring Cleaning: The Downsizing Dilemma (Part 1)

I've watched Pam Farrel in some tough patches of life, and her choices were good and godly—worth emulating. Most recently, Pam downsized drastically, and in the process learned important lessons. I asked her to share some of those lessons in this two-part Organization UPGRADE post.

"What is truly important in life?" Pam asks.

"Each day we live the legacy we want to leave. In a world overstuffed with things, it is the memories attached to those things that carry the real value."

As I (Dawn) am getting older, I have to agree with Pam's insight. Life is not about "the stuff."

Pam continues . . .

You need much, much, much less than you think you do. I know. Trust me, I KNOW!

We recently moved—not just a normal move from house to house. No, we moved radically.

We downsized 90% of our belongings and we are moving on to a live-aboard boat!

We have been helping care for aging parents, and their health has declined to a place they need help more often, and help closer to them.

We also launched our children into their lives, so we no longer needed our large home and office. We travel over 200 days a year to speak at men’s, women’s and couples’ conferences often on marriage and family, and most recently, on our books 7 Simple skills for Every Woman and 7 Simple Skills for Every Man. (Some of the principles in those resources helped us make those tough decisions when we simplified our own lives.)  

The overall principle, at the heart of all decisions, was these verses:

"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2).

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven …for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).

While owning possessions is not wrong or evil when they serve God and do not replace Him in our hearts, I wanted a heavenly vantage point to my choices.

I prayed, asking God to put my heart where His heart was as I made each choice.

On the practical side, many people have asked how I made the decisions of what to keep and what to toss, give or sell.  

Here are the first two of five questions I asked myself—the other three will be posted in Part 2—and maybe these will help you as you spring clean, downsize or make the move to live more simply.

1. Is it in good shape, does it fit, and does it work?

If the item was not it in good shape, I either recycled, tossed it in the trash or gave it away to a charity that helps train others to work by teaching them to fix household items.

2. Do I love it? Does it bring me joy or turn my heart toward a relationship with God or someone I love?

A decade ago, I traveled to speak for the military in Germany. I stayed with a seasoned military wife, and in her modest home were beautiful treasures from around the world, but very few superfluous items.

Every closet, drawer and cupboard was efficiently organized.

I complimented her and asked how she decided what to move each time Uncle Sam called.

Her answer was, “I hold it up and ask, 'Do you love it?' If I don’t love it—if it doesn’t bring me joy, or someone in my family joy—I tell myself, If I released that, it might bring someone else joy."

For me, moving into a boat, I had to limit how much I could “love."

One of my sons offered some free storage space, as did the in-laws we were caring for, but neither storage space was very large. We calculated the cost of storage (or moving) and discovered it is often MUCH less expensive to release items—even if it meant buying later.

While I love and appreciate every gift given to me over my thirty years of speaking, as I surveyed my trinkets, decorations and books, I realized God could upcycle many of these things for MORE ministry if I would be willing to release them.

  • So I packed up four or five boxes of small goodies AWANA kids could “buy” as they memorized verses.
  • I gave each member of each of my small groups, leadership teams and networking groups one of my mugs and asked them to pray for me as they drank from it.
  • In Seasoned Sisters, my ministry to women over 40, our mascot is a FROG (Fully Rely On God) and over the years many people have given me frogs of all shapes and sizes, so I gave each Seasoned Sister a frog so she would know I am praying for her even when I might be miles apart.

Walk through your house today.

What do you have that could be released and UPCYCLED today to bless someone?

(Continued in PART TWO)

Pam Farrel is author of 45 books including her newest, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success in Keeping It All Together. Pam gains most delight in time shared with people she loves, her husband (and co-author), Bill and her three sons and three daughters in law and 4 young grandchildren, who soon will all be vacationing on the boat which will be moored in Southern California.  She also loves prayer walks on the beach with those women she mentors, other writers and her many cherished friends. www.Love-wise.com

Thursday
Apr132017

Gasp: A Relationship's Last Breath

Cythia Ruchti is a hope-lover, hope giver and hope promoter. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she offers hope for all human relationships (and our ultimate relationship with the Lord).

"Who sits sipping coffee when a dying man or woman lies on the hardwood floor of the coffee shop or the breakroom at the office?" Cynthia says. "Even people with minimal skills know that someone needs to start CPR, call 911, and ask, 'Is there a doctor in the house?'"

At first, I (Dawn) thought this sounded a little like the beginning of a mystery, but knowing Cynthia, I figured it was more likely a powerful life lesson. I was not disappointed!

Cynthia continues . . . 

With relationships—marriage, parent/child, friendships—isn’t that what we too often do?

We sit idly by, caring but not responding.

“That’s for the professionals.” As if that absolves us of the responsibility to act, to do something, even if our skills are amateur at best, even if all we know about CPR is what we’ve seen on TV dramas.

But sometimes the last gasp occurs before the professionals arrive on the scene.

And sometimes the relationship in trouble is our own.

It’s been said that the number one killer of relationships is neglect.

  • How many friendships would still be alive if years, distance, and neglect hadn’t gotten in the way?
  • How many parent/child relationships could be strong and vital, life-giving, if given more attention when they started to fade?
  • How many marriages list “neglect” as one of the reasons for their “failure to thrive”?

Although the following scripture specifically speaks to a community’s forsaking or neglecting their relationship with God, doesn’t it also give a gripping word picture of the way we handle distance in marriage relationships or friendships?

“For our fathers…have forsaken Him and turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD, and have turned their backs. They have also shut the doors of the porch and put out the lamps…” (2 Chronicles 29:6-9 NASB).

What a poignant visual! Leaving a porch light on is an expression of hope. He will come home. She will return. We will be okay. We’ll get through this. It may be long into the night, but we’re going to make it.

In this incident in the Bible, the people had boldly extinguished all evidence of hope. Lights off. We’re done.

After decades of marriage, my husband and I still disagree. Shocking, isn’t it? But even when our disagreements reach what seem to be impossible impasses, neither one of us reaches to shut off the porch light, because hope lingers in our commitment to one another.

Most MARRIED couples can recite the list of relationship CPR (Caring enough to Proactively Resuscitate) instructions:

  1. Maintain frequent date nights, even if you’re empty nesters. Get away from the house and its responsibilities for a while to focus on each other.
  2. Set aside an extended period of time for a getaway at least once a year.
  3. Be intentional about what the other person needs, honoring him (or her) above yourself (See Philippians 2:3. Check out the Phillips version—“Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people’s point of view.”)
  4. Learn and respect your mate’s love language.

What would that list look like if our connection WITH GOD is the relationship that’s been neglected, left gasping?

  1. Re-establish a regular time to leave all other concerns behind and focus on listening to Him.
  2. Make it a priority to create an extended time for aloneness with the One you love. A silent retreat. A day-long or week-long sabbatical from other responsibilities. Unplugging. Fasting.
  3. Set your own needs aside to concentrate on what God wants from you—worship, adoration, devotion…
  4. Learn and respect God’s love language—OBEDIENCE (John 14:15).

If your human relationships or your connection with God are gasping for air, what CPR measures do you intend to implement?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope, an ever-lit porch light hope, through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. She and her grade-school sweetheart husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five (to date) grandchildren. Her latest novel is A Fragile Hope (Abingdon Press). In June, Worthy Publishing releases her book of encouragement and reflections called As My Parents Agehttp://www.cynthiaruchti.com/books/a-fragile-hope/.

Graphic: adapted, Click at Morguefile.

Thursday
Apr062017

Let Us Spray

In Rhonda Rhea's case, the funnybone connects to the heart! In this Prayer UPGRADE, she encourages us to spend time where our strength lies.

"Sometimes I’m tempted to take some time off from hairspray," Rhonda says. "Sometime when I’m planning to go nowhere. And I mean absolutely nowhere. I think I would call it a spray-cation."

Don't get me (Dawn) started on hairspray. It's been a long time since my free-flowing "hippie" years. Now I'm in the "helmet" stage—as in, you couldn't dent my hair!

Rhonda continues . . .

It’s funny because I almost remember what it was like to freely run my fingers through my hair. It’s been a long time, though.

These days I invest in a lot of hair products. The fingers may go in, but I’m telling you right now. They’re not coming out.

I have to keep the crazy assortment of hair sprays, gels, mousses and goops, because it takes a different concoction for every style. A brew for every do, as it were.

When constructing an up-do, for instance, you sort of have to pour footings. I use a product that’s referred to as styling mousse, but I think it might actually be some sort of rebar.

Still—not to split hairs or anything—but it’s good to remember that if you don’t want to have to wrestle with your hair, you have to start with a good goo-foundation.

As for real life battles, if you want victory there, you have to start with a good spiritual foundation. You have to invest.

Time invested in connecting with the Father in prayer is absolutely vital.

  • Are you wrestling with your flesh on some issue or another? Take it to Him.
  • Struggling with a decision? Lay it at His feet.
  • Grappling with a fearful situation that has your hair standing on end—even before the mousse? Spend time with Him and the battle is all but over.

The God who created everything, the One who never tires, the One who has all power and who also promises to grant strength to those who will rely on Him—He is the One who will give victory. There’s not a single battle we can ever face that He doesn’t have the power to win.

Isaiah 40:28-31 spells it out.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow wear, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint” (HCSB).

So it’s eyes off of the battle that threatens to overwhelm us. And eyes on the God who simply cannot be overwhelmed.

The evil one wants to keep us focused on the problems, frustrations and pains of the battle. But the Lord wants us to take our eyes off all of that and fix them firmly on Him. More firmly fixed than the surest hair-glue.

We can do that through prayer. And that’s where our strength will be found.

Feeling weary? Powerless? Like you could easily stumble and fall?

Without a doubt, the best place to fall is to your knees.

Trust in the One who will be your strength. Fall before Him in prayer and you will find everything you need for soaring—really soaring—through every battle.

You win. And it’s the kind of victory that’s sure and complete.

Not the kind you win by just by a hair.

Are you trusting in your own strength today? Isn't it time for a talk with your Father in heaven?

Friends, "Let us spray."

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.