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Entries in Upgrade with Dawn (353)

Tuesday
Oct172017

Three Things God Says about Food

I got to know Kate Hagen as we grieved together after her mom's passing. I read her thoughts and recognized she was a excellent writer. I've since discovered her love of God's Word. In this Health UPGRADE, Kate invites us to examine lies we might believe about food. Actually, Kate's full title for this post is "Three Things God Says about Food (and How It Can Make You Happy)."

Kate says, "There is a voice that whispers lies in my ears: 'Being thin will satisfy me. Eating will make me happy.'”

I (Dawn) am glad Kate had the courage to confront that voice so she can share some biblical wisdom with others who struggle.

Kate continues . . .

When I was eight, I discovered something bad about myselfI was chubby. It was a new, undeveloped shame, but, it was a growing one. I learned if I could just be skinny, I would be happy.

Now, over 30 years later, I fight that belief. But, it still lingers.

When I see a woman who is thin and fit, there’s a little voice in my head whispering, “Kate, you’d be happier if you looked like her. When you finally lose five pounds you’ll be satisfied." (Some years it’s been a lot more than five pounds.)

At times, I have lost that weight. And, you know what, I wasn’t happier. Not really.

There’s another voice.

This one tells me food will satisfy me and bring me life. It tempts, “Kate, if you get up and get a bag of potato chips, you’ll feel happy.”

I have obeyed that voice many times. It never makes me happy.

Are these voices from God? Do the Bible authors write about how we should eat, drink or view our bodies?

I’ve spent a lot of time digging in Scripture to find these answers. I have found three  recurring truths I can no longer ignore.

1. God gave me a body so that I can reflect His image.

This humbles me when I quietly reflect on its magnificence. God has placed within me a representation of Him. Others “see” God’s image through my physical body. I mirror God! (Genesis 1:27)

Woah. That’s a lot more lofty than being hopeful I can look cute in my bathingsuit.

2. God gave me food as a blessing—to be enjoyed and to draw me to gratitude.

Although there are certain foods some of us should be cautious of, Scripture says food does not commend us to God (1 Corinthians 8:8). He’s not happier with me when I eat spinach instead of cookies. It’s what comes out of my mouth and heart that matters (Mark 7:19).

Food is one of the gifts God gives me—a blessing that can draw me into worship of the One who provides! (Deuteronomy 8:10)

3. God's food is eternal.

Feasting on the Spirit of Jesus is what truly nourishes and fills me. It is food that lasts forever! (John 6:1-15; 25-69)

Therefore, we don’t need to worry about what we eat or drink! (Matthew 6:25). The thought of NEVER worrying about what I’m eating is so freeing. I think I’ll follow Jesus on this one!

When I’m tempted to eat when I’m not hungry, I now shout over the whispering lie:

“Food will not satisfy me! Jesus’ Spirit satisfies my soul.”  

All of the times I’ve been overweight, it’s been because I was eating when I wasn’t hungry. Now I know I was eating like this to satisfy some lack I was feeling; I believed that somehow food would satisfy.

But, Food DOES NOT SATISFY MY SOUL!  It satisfies my hunger. Only Jesus can satisfy my soul (John 6:35).

Here's a practical tip.

Only eat when you’re hungry. If you’re eating when you’re not hungry, question what your soul is lacking. It’s your soul, not your stomach that needs to be filled if you eat when unnecessary. But, don’t view this as law; it’s merely a principle that leads us to Jesus (our true food).

When that other voice tempts, “I’ll be happier when I’m thinner," I sometimes have the courage to shout over the whispering lie. I say, Being thin will not make me happy!

When WILL I be happy if it’s not when I’m thinner?

The crazy thing is, I can be happy NOW, before I look good in a bathing suit. Why? Because God’s Spirit is in me. I have been seen and known by God. Jesus has shown me a perfect way to be human. That’s good news that brings me true, deep, real happiness.

Here's another practical tip.

The moment you feel yourself envying someone else’s body or longing to be thinner, let the phrase repeat in your head, “Being thin won’t make me happy. Loving Jesus makes me happy.”

Jesus so beautifully said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25)

What do you tell your soul when those whispering lies come?

Kate Hagen spends most of her time teaching, knowing and loving her three kids in their beach community of Leucadia, CA. She has a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling and has written, spoken and counseled women about mothering, body image and health. She runs a small essential oil business from her home, and usually smells pretty good. At her website you can read her journey of grieving and laughing as her mom passed of cancer, as well as her thoughts on the Bible and body image.

Graphics adapted: "Whisper" (cupped ear), courtesy of Morguefile, and Cinnamon rolls courtesy of Adam Kontor at Pixabay.

Thursday
Oct122017

A New Kind of Survival

I’ve followed survivor Kathy Carlton Willis in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. In this special UPLIFT, she shares some insights inspired by Harvey.

Kathy is always finding a way to grin through stinky days. One of her Facebook posts said, “Harvey Schmarvey! Harvey is like the unwanted house guest who doesn’t know when to leave.”

Kathy's example encouraged me (Dawn) in my own recent "storm," and I pray her words will help you too.

Kathy continues . . .

One thing that popped up during Harvey was the use of unintentional puns. It’s as if God wanted to help me keep generating grins despite the devastation surrounding me.

Here are a few of them:

  • I forgot to get vaccinated for cabin fever.
  • This whole area feels a bit like cornflakes sitting in milk too long—soggy.
  • I’m flooded by emails and calls from concerned friends.
  • I’m blown away by how people are helping people.
  • The water to all of Beaumont has been shut off. (Sure, we didn’t want more water, but we meant rain!)
  • I can’t believe the Internet router went out just four hours after our electricity came back on. What? Wasn’t ten days enough time without technology? When it rains, it pours!
  • Russ saw a 4-foot alligator on the road. I wonder if Russ said, “See you later, alligator!”
  • We’ll be playing catch up once the power is back on. We’ll keep calm and power on!

And a serious one:

  • “The sun is coming tomorrow. The Son is here today.”

No Light in Sight

The electricity failed for ten days. Having no air conditioning or fan during the hottest part of Texas summer was most miserable.

It was pitch black without the light. I kept flipping the light switch on, even though I knew the power was out. Darkness is never so dark as when there’s not a spot of light. As I pondered about God in the darkness, I centered my mind’s eye on His light, and a sense of His presence gave me great peace.

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. (Luke 1:78-79 NLT)

Grateful for Simple Luxuries

It looked like a war zone all around us, with the army tanks and helicopters. Lines at what few stores opened had a two- to three-hour wait time, with guards at the entrance.

We found a battery-powered fan housed in a dented box at the store. It was the only fan on the shelf. Others assumed it was defective. We inspected it, and decided it was functional. Did God crunch the box so I could have some air movement in my steamy home?

My first hot meal was a McDonald’s breakfast biscuit. I never thought I’d be happy for McD’s, but I prayed the most appreciative meal blessing I’d prayed in a while!

Washing my hands with soap and warm water felt like such a luxury.

Finding a loaf of bread seemed like a small miracle.

Weather the Storm

The only way to weather a storm is to plan ahead for it, do all you can, and then rest in God’s presence as you wait out the worst of it.

And then, as soon as relief is in sight, ask God to show you how He wants to use the trial* for:

  1. His glory
  2. The good of others
  3. Your own personal and spiritual growth

What do you need to do today to be ready for the storm that might hit tomorrow?

* NOTE: Kathy wrote Four Ways to Get through the Storm earlier this year. She practiced her own tips during Hurricane Harvey. Kathy is coordinating an encouragement project to deliver donated gift cards and homemade baked goods to a neighborhood hardest hit by Harvey.

The rest of the story? She was supposed to close on a home in that very neighborhood on September 19th. The home was flooded with 5-7 feet of water and the contract was voided. She says she discovered home isn’t a WHERE, it’s a WHO.

Please continue to pray for Kathy and others you know who have "weathered" a tough storm in recent days. Pray they will not only "survive," but thrive in the Father's care.

Kathy Carlton Willis, God's Grin Gal, 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.

The photo in the graphic, above, was Kathy's photo of the first sunshine that broke through after Harvey.

Tuesday
Oct102017

Avengers [Please Do Not] Assemble!

Kaley Faith Rhea is a funny, faith-filled young woman with a strong voice for the Lord. In this Attitude UPGRADE, she encourages us to not repay "evil for evil."

"Want to know something the Bible goes over and over and over again? I’m not talking about love or peace or forgiveness," Kaley says. "I’m talking VENGEANCE."

Something about that word makes me (Dawn) shudder. That couldn't possibly be a Christian issue, right? Oh, yes it is. Often.

Kaley continues . . .

Don’t get me wrong. I like a good Marvel movie or book as much as the next gal. Sometimes more. Sometimes maybe too much. I might be watching Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as I write this. Who knows?

But seriously, take a look with me at what the Scripture says about revenge. It’s in there a shocking number of times.

“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

Well, that’s just one instance of ... Oh, wait.

“See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:15).

Okay, so twice it’s… Hmmm.

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” (Romans 12:17).

I’d almost say Scripture is beating a dead horse about the subject, but it seems like it’s actually all about blessing the dead horse and repaying the dead horse’s evil with good.

Wait, what?

Do we even struggle that much with the desire for revenge in our modern, everyday lives?

When I think of the word "vengeance," I think of blood feuds or wrathful vendettas of old. But we come across vengeance every day.

  • Sometimes we call it “getting even.”
  • Or making sure someone “gets what they deserve.”
  • Or even “standing up for myself.”

To be clear, if someone has hurt you and remains unrepentant, it may be very necessary to place boundaries on that relationship. And if you are in an abusive situation, do not let anyone tell you you have an obligation to remain there.

But I’m talking about that very human, very dark instinct that is able to rationalize and even righteous-ize the thinking for slights big and small:

“I am hurt. And in my anger, all I want is for you to hurt too.”

Paul wrote,

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:18-21).

  • Seeking to get even robs you of your peace.
  • It reveals a lack of trust in the Lord.
  • It obliterates an opportunity to show the love of Christ.

Did you notice the part where it says “If possible, so far as it depends on you”? It won’t always be possible to live peaceably with everyone.

Where there is sin, you may be called to lovingly confront. Whether that person responds peacefully or with the same kind of love is up to them. But, beloved, “never avenge yourselves.”

If this seems impossible, well, it is. This is something we need to ask Jesus to do in and through us. Every day. Every time a car cuts us off or a coworker whispers behind our backs.

Let Jesus be your example and your strength. That way, as He works in you and through you to take a bad situation and do something good, God gets all the glory.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:21-23).

So by all means, dress like Thor or Wasp or Ms. Marvel or any of the other Avengers for your costume parties this year. But when you do, use the opportunity as a reminder for your heart that the One we really want to look most like is Jesus.

When are you tempted to seek revenge? Which of the three everyday examples of "revenge" do you struggle with most?

Kaley Faith Rhea is a co-author of the Christian rom-com novel, Turtles in the Road, with two more books in the works to release in 2018. She also co-hosts the TV show, That’s My Mom, for Christian Television Network’s KNLJ in mid-Missouri. Kaley lives in the St. Louis area.

Article adapted from the Bible study companion to Turtles in the Road.

Graphic adapted, Open clip art vector courtesy of Pixabay.

Thursday
Oct052017

Getting Needs Met ... or Not

Dianne Barker has a knack for pinpointing issues we all struggle with, and the biblical truth that helps. In this Perspective UPGRADE, she examines a question we may ask in the middle of stressful circumstances.

     

"Overwhelmed, I cried out to the Lord," Dianne said. 'What about my needs?'”

I (Dawn) believe the Lord understands our struggle. Humanly, Jesus had physical needs during His time on earth, and He looked to scriptures for strength. That's exactly where we need to go.

Dianne continues . . .

I went into marriage expecting my wonderful husband to meet all my needs and make me sublimely happy.

Our first few years were pretty much carefree. When I left a successful journalism career to be a stay-at-home mom, I had no regrets. Making a nest for my husband and our two young children brought me great joy. Meeting their needs had highest priority, although I carved out some time to continue writing.

Life has a way of piling stress upon stress.

As our children grew, we enjoyed the normal progression of family life: music lessons and recitals ... Little League and Scouts ... choral concerts and competitions.

We enjoyed our hectic life and managed the good stress.

Then heartbreaking stress caught up with us as our aging parents declined in health. I gladly poured out my life caring for them.

Increasing, daily challenges drained my time and energy, taking an emotional toll, and weariness sent me to the Lord.

“What about my needs? Doesn’t anybody care about my needs?”

He surprised me with an answer.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

I’d always viewed that familiar promise as assurance he would meet my physical, financial, and spiritual needs. A gentle voice in my spirit said, “I will supply your emotional needs. That frees you to meet the needs of your family.”

It was a jaw-dropping moment.

The Lord continued encouraging my heart with these words: “…as your days, so shall your strength be” (Deuteronomy 33:25).

My circumstances didn’t change, only my perspective.

When you’re weary and feeling your needs aren’t getting met, consider having a conversation with yourself.

  • God placed me here—in this family, in these circumstances—on purpose. He thought I had something to contribute. He surely has a lot of confidence to entrust me with such a complicated assignment.
  • I feel inadequate, but I’ll never be stronger than I am right now because God is my strength. And he won’t be stronger tomorrow.
  • The One who engraved me on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:16) is fully able to supply all my needs. Knowing that, I needn’t depend on anyone else for this impossible provision.

Many years have passed since the Lord interrupted my pity party with an amazing promise. He met my needs and renewed my strength day by day, enabling me to pour out my life with joy, serving my precious family.

Circumstances are temporary. Our parents are in heaven and our children have left the nest. I look back on those challenging times with gratitude for the faithfulness of God.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).

I’ve never regretted the decision to trust him to supply my needs. He’s surpassed my expectations. 

Who are you depending on to meet your needs?

Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned. This post is adapted from I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, and Christian Women in Media Association. Visit www.diannebarker.com.)

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Engin_Akyurt, Pixabay.

Tuesday
Oct032017

When You Don't Like Your Life Season

Janet Thompson is a mentoring expert who deeply cares about women's spiritual growth. In this Mentoring UPGRADE, she encourages us to consider how God might use each of us in our current life seasons.

"We’ve all heard, 'You’re just in a season, it will pass,'” Janet says. "But what do you do until then . . . or worse . . . if it never passes?"

I (Dawn) felt "stuck" in a season a few years ago, and I heartily agree with Janet's prescription for how to move forward!

Janet continues . . .

Good and pleasant life seasons are wonderful and it’s easy to think God couldn’t possibly want what we perceive as a bad or unpleasant season for us. Right?

Yet, Ecclesiastes 4:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

We try so hard to hold onto those feel-good seasons, and there’s nothing wrong with that—we should have times of joy, dancing, laughing, loving, and peace.

But when the not-so-good times roll, we need to remember that God hasn’t left us. He’s walking right beside us through the mourning, weeping, uprooting, and war seasons.

God never abandons His children—a message we need to share with each other and with the culture, especially during today’s challenging times.

Reasons for Not Liking our Life Season

Usually we don’t like a life season because:

  • It’s painful or uncomfortable.
  • We’re jealous and like what someone else’s life looks like more than our own life.
  • We’re living with the consequences of our, or someone else’s, behavior or decisions.
  • We’re discontent or discouraged.
  • We’re not sure if God still cares about us.

What would you add to the list?

We all have difficult seasons we just want to end. Or maybe we’re in a wonderful season we never want to end.

Most seasons we have no control over, even though advertisers set us up to fail by assuring if we just drink, eat, use, own, the right products, or meet the right people, every season will be heavenly.

The aging clock will stop and somehow God made our life to be different from everyone else’s life.

But that’s a lie and those who buy into it will never be content because everything God lists in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a season everyone will experience.

What to Do

1. The first thing to do when we don’t like our life season is ask God how He wants us to deal with it, and then listen carefully to how the Holy Spirit answers.

It’s that still small voice we hear guiding us when we cry out to God. We might not know how to get through the season, but God does. So often, He’s talking but we’re not listening.

Someone asked a Christian friend how he knew what God wanted. Did he have a direct line to God? I thought, Yes he does!

Every Christian has a direct line to God the world doesn’t understand, and one we don’t use nearly enough: praying to Jesus who hears every word and the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us even when all we can do is groan.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).

2. Next, seek out a Christian woman who has experienced this season in her life and can mentor you in how she made it through like only someone can who has been-there-done-that.

Incredible comfort comes from spending time with a mentor who understands your painful season!

God doesn’t want us going through any season alone; but He also doesn’t want us listening to anyone who isn’t giving us biblical wisdom.

That’s why in Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, every season has Scripture for the mentor and menteeor for any two womento study together that applies to the various issues they might experience in any season.

Being a mentor doesn’t mean you have all the answers or the Bible memorized. It simply means you’re willing to share your experiences, search God’s Word, and pray together with another woman.

Then one day, she can reach out and help lift up someone else going through a similar season.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

Who are you mentoring and who is mentoring you?

Janet Thompson is a speaker and author of nineteen books, the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Her latest release is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Visit Janet at www.womantowomanmentoring.com where she writes a weekly blog and monthly newsletter. 

Graphic adapted, courtesy of geralt at Pixabay.